Source: The News-Record
She learned her teen son, Mitchell, was severely injured in an accident. Knowing her son wouldn't survive, Hankey found a way to make sense from the accident by donating his organs and tissues to help other patients.
"I wanted to find some sense in the tragedy," Hankey said, adding she never talked with her son about organ or tissue donation and hadn't thought about it until Theda Clark staff raised the question.
"They were very sincere and compassionate, explaining how we can take what he had and help someone else."
The American Tissue Services Foundation (ATSF) has honored Theda Clark's efforts to provide families with donation options and information. In 2010, 28 donors from Theda Clark helped between 1,400 and 2,100 people.
Theda Clark achieved a 51 percent tissue donation rate in 2010, which means tissue was recovered on 51 percent of the medical center's eligible donors. Hospital staff also received training in tissue donations from the ATSF and sponsored a community event to promote organ donation.
Sue Broeren, who oversees the organ and tissue procurement program at Theda Clark, said staff members are trained about the importance of organ and tissue donation and how to compassionately raise the issue with families.
"Organ donation is not usually top of families' mind, so staff members consider that and explain how other patients and families can be helped by saying yes," she said.
While donations of organs, such as the heart, liver or kidneys, attract more attention, Broeren said donations of tissue, such as bone, skin, heart valves and veins are just as important.
"These types of tissues are used in more than 1 million surgeries every year in the United States," she said.
Many more people are eligible to be tissue donors, said Jeannette Potts, ATSF education and development manager. While organ donation usually takes place when brain death occurs and transplants must be performed within a short time afterward, tissue can be removed within 12 to 24 hours of death and be preserved for later use.
"Through its dedication and focus on increasing donations, Theda Clark has made a tremendous difference in the lives of others," Potts said. "Donated tissue gifts save lives, as well as increase strength, mobility and independence for many patients."
As for Hankey and her family, they still grieve Mitchell's death, but take comfort knowing how other families have been helped.