One of the decisions that all of us must make as we get older is if we are going to donate our organs once we pass away or not. It is a personal decision and not one that can be made by anyone but us as individuals. When you do donate an organ, it means that another family who is also experiencing a loss is given some hope because of your kindness.
Although there are people who will argue on both sides of the case, it suffices to say that donating an organ is a very sensitive subject. When you agree to it, you may be able to save a life or to provide something that will help to ease suffering on the account of someone else. That is a factor that is known by the medical professionals at St. Luke’s Meridian Medical Center in Idaho. They know that it can be a difficult thing to sign off on a donation a loved one is making to another.
They also recognize that it is something that means a lot to the recipient and the family as well. That is why they have developed a tradition that helps to pay final respects to those who are organ donors.
It is known as the ‘walk of respect’ and pictures of the occurrence have gone viral online. Hospital employees line the hallways between the intensive care and the elevators to pay the respect to the organ donors as they are taken down the hallway.
You will not hear a sound as the hospital bed is being wheeled along. The employees hold their hands together and bow their heads while the loved ones are following.
The intensive care unit director at St. Luke’s, Deborah Compton, begin this tradition a few years ago. It has since caught on at other locations.
“Family and friends of those who gave the ultimate gift of life are appreciative of the demonstration of respect and compassion from staff. During a particularly moving Walk of Respect in Magic Valley, the wife of a donor was overheard telling her two young children, ‘This is your father’s hero welcome into heaven.’ For these families and loved ones, the Walk of Respect leaves a lasting impression and hopefully provides a moment of peace among the grief. Not only is it a valued process for loved ones, it also provides comfort and a moment for the patient’s care team to reflect on their own feelings.”
Lara Leigh Vick commented on a post on the St. Luke’s Facebook page about her older brother Paul. He was an organ donor and she had a difficult time with it but she found the walk to be reassuring.
“As a healthy organ donor, we know (as a family) that Paul has saved numerous lives through his death. As an RN myself, that is a bittersweet moment, knowing my brother has helped others live…I still miss my brother who died too early.”
You can watch this touching video to see the walk for yourself: