Photo Contest

Katie Hendrikson

Photo Description

This photo shows a Donate Life flag flying outside of M Health Fairview Southdale Hospital in Edina, Minnesota. This flag only flies at the hospital during the month of April for organ donation awareness month, and any time there is an organ donation that occurs within the hospital. This flag was flying December 6th, 2023, signifying that there was an organ donation that occurred at the hospital, leading to a flag raising ceremony with the family. This flag doesn't fly often, but I always take a moment to remember the patient and family when it does fly.

My Story

I worked as a hospital chaplain (intern) in the M Health Fairview Hospital system in 2020, right before the outbreak of Covid-19. During my time as a chaplain, I learned that the hospitals I worked in only experienced organ donation a few times a year. I was paged into the hospital close to midnight to be with a family in the ICU. It was determined after sometime that the patient was braindead; it was then that the family brought up organ donation. I was invited by the Donate Life representative to bear witness to the process of deeming viability of the organs from this patient. She invited me into hard conversations, explained things along the way, and answered any questions that came up from staff and the family. The act of going through with organ donation was a decision that was made by the patient’s daughters, only 26 and 18 years old (due to familial circumstances). I walked out of the hospital with the Donate Life rep around 4am and will never ever forget this experience of being on the professional side of organ donation. It was an incredibly eye-opening experience to witness how long this process truly takes – from testing and harvesting organs, it took days. I know so many people think organ donation is instantaneous and that anyone who dies can be a donor, but the circumstances have to be so perfect for it to happen, and this situation was one of those times. I am grateful for the Donate Life representative and the opportunity she gave me to be apart of this process as a student chaplain – I have made it my own personal mission to educate others about organ donation and Donate Life any chance I get. It’s a topic I am passionate about and speak to anytime it comes up in conversation or when moments like the Donate Life flag is flying outside of the hospital.