SSM Cardinal Glennon Children’s Medical Center on Thursday unveiled a donor wall to commemorate the children whose organs have been donated to save the lives of other children in desperate need of transplants.
For many children, the organs they receive from a donor child represent their only opportunity for survival. Just one donor can contribute to saving the lives of up to eight people.
Despite the desperate need, the number of people waiting for a transplant far outweighs the organs available. As of Thursday morning, about 100,000 people are on the list awaiting an organ transplant.
Many patients in need will never receive that life-saving transplant. About 18 people die across the country every day while waiting on the transplant list, said Kim Ames, Critical Care director at SSM Cardinal Glennon.
The donor wall began with 10 names but will eventually feature 200 tributes. The space was created as a way to display the names of children whose parents chose to donate their organs. The wall is located just outside the Pediatric Intensive Care Unit, which works with the youngest heroes and their families who make the courageous decision to donate.
Pediatric organ donation is heart-wrenching for parents who are just beginning the grieving process. But many donor families express hope at knowing that their child’s death can help another child dramatically increase their quality of life and, in many cases, overcome grim predictions.
“This is no small gift you all gave at the hardest time in your life,” Ames said to the donor families who gathered at the unveiling ceremony on Thursday. “These children deserve a place so we can always remember the tremendous gift they gave.”
Amanda Shelton of Hazelwood knows all about tremendous gifts. When her son Deven was just 10 days old, she and her husband came to Cardinal Glennon for treatment of Deven’s liver disease, which prevented him from processing protein. His condition was so serious that the Sheltons were told Deven would not survive another day.
Miraculously, he did survive another day—and many others after that. But doctors knew that a liver transplant would be crucial to Deven’s long-term potential. Deven was placed on the transplant list and, just 12 hours later, received word that a liver match was available.
Now four years old, Deven is happy and healthy. But his parents are grateful every day for the generous family who made the decision to enhance Deven’s life so significantly.
“There are not even words to describe the gratitude we have,” Amanda Shelton says. “There are people in my family who would never have considered being an organ donor, but after seeing how blessed we are with our situation with Deven, they’ve changed their minds and become believers.”