Honor Walk: The Ultimate Christmas Gift

Preparing to say goodbye to a loved one is one of the hardest things a person can do. For a donor family, the loneliest walk they will likely ever take is the one accompanying their loved one from the Intensive Care Unit (ICU) to the Operating Room (OR) to become a donor.

As a way to honor one of our patients, 61-year-old Margaret (Meg) Cahill of Albany, and her family, St. Peter’s Hospital held its first ‘Honor Walk’ Saturday, December 22. During the walk, staff, family and friends, silently lined the pathway from the ICU to the OR to pay their respects. The simple act was a way for hospital staff to show the family that they are not alone, and to support the patient’s heroic last act in saving someone else’s life.

“Not only is it helping a stranger, it also helps the family by giving them some closure and allowing them to honor their loved one,” said Kimberly Morrison, RN, MSN, PCCN, nurse manager, St. Peter’s Cardiac and Vascular Center.

The patient’s selfless decision to register as an organ donor did not come as a surprise to her family. Her daughter shared on social media last evening a bit about her mother’s kind and giving spirit saying, “We all have lost a truly exceptional selfless woman, who knew nothing but love, friendship, and having fun. As her last selfless act she will become an organ donor tomorrow. Our loss allows a Christmas miracle for another family. She always preached it is better to give than to receive. We will miss her more than words can express. She was our rock, our source of laughter and love and our party coordinator.”

Her daughter ended by saying, “Anyone who knew her knows how much she loved a parade. Tomorrow, she will be the Grand Marshall of her final parade.”

“It really gives meaning to the whole organ donation process,” Morrison said. “This donor and her family have answered the prayers of those awaiting life-saving transplant. This act of giving at a time of profound loss represents the best of humanity.”

Margaret’s gift saved the lives of two people in their fifties from the Northeast, giving them the chance to experience many more Christmases to come. Not only that, the video of her Honor Walk reached nearly 250,000 people on Facebook, significantly raising local and national awareness about the importance of organ donation.

The Honor Walk was coordinated with help from the Center for Donation and Transplant New York – Vermont. The Center for Donation and Transplant (CDT) was established in 1972 and is one of 58 federally designated non-profit organ procurement organizations in the United States. It serves a population of 2.7 million people across 30 counties in New York and Vermont, as well as in Berkshire County, Massachusetts. CDT works in partnership with 43 hospitals including St. Peter’s Hospital.

For more information on organ donation: https://www.cdtny.org/donation/register/

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