The success of organ donation at St. Luke's -- where more than 75 percent of eligible patients donate organs -- landed the hospital a U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Medal of Honor. It is the sixth year in a row the hospital has won the award.
Lehigh Valley Hospital-Cedar Crest has also won the Medal of Honor designation for organ transplant success.
The Gift of Life Donor Program presented St. Luke's with the award this afternoon in Fountain Hill.
"I'm proud to say that I think we've done very, very well,"trauma and surgical critical care doctor Michael Grossman said.
Grossman said he helped found the hospital's trauma center 13 years ago, and that the push for getting staff and others to buy into the serious need for organ donation was a slow, but rewarding process.
St. Luke's is the top referring hospital to the Gift of Life Donor Program in the region, according to nurse Richard Karasiewicz, who works in the trauma center.
Bill and Chris Hankee, of Heidelberg Township, have become organ donation advocates in the three-plus years since their daughter, Krysta, 22, died and saved five people through organ donation.
- "It hurts and it helps," Bill Hankee said of knowing that his daughter's legacy continues in the lungs, pancreas, liver and other organs she gave after dying in New York City in 2007.
The Hankees met one of their daughter's recipients last year in Wisconsin. Christy Heart was given both of Krysta's lungs, Chris Hankee said.
- "I said to her, 'I just want to hear you breathe,'" Chris Hankee said of the moment she met Heart.
The Hankees said their daughter's gift has been difficult, but also rewarding.
- "Thanks to people like you," Chris Hankee told the small group of doctors, nurses and St. Luke's staff gathered for the presentation, "Krysta's story does continue."