Greater Fairbanks Community Hospital Foundation discusses Gift of Life Memory Boxes
FAIRBANKS, Alaska (KTVF) - As part of the Brooke Fisher Gift of Life Fund, Fairbanks Memorial Hospital (FMH) is seeking to increase support for organ donor patients and their families.
According to Marisa Sharrah, Development Program Manager for the Greater Fairbanks Community Hospital Foundation, one of the more recent additions is a hand crafted memory box that contains treasures and memories of their loved ones.
“When an organ donor is here at the hospital, there’s a process that the patient needs to go through in order to be ready for the organ recovery process,” Sharrah explained. “During that time, it’s often a time for families to gather and be with their loved one in those final moments. So if they want to keep these kinds of items in the box or maybe display them in the home, they’re just good memory making opportunities while the patient is here.”
Some items that can be found in the memory box include a heart beat in a bottle, and a memento necklace. Although this process can be daunting, and sad at times, FMH says it always provides an opportunity for friends and family to engage with each other, which can help with the grieving process.
Sharrah said it’s about “having that extra time, and giving family members and loved ones an opportunity to take advantage, to capitalize on that time with that person and have an opportunity to have some mementos that they can take with them. I think it helps with the grieving process to have those extra moments with that loved one, to be able to have some of these keepsakes to take with you.”
Sharrah also emphasized that because of the gift of life given by Fairbanks patients, several lives have been impacted with successful transplants. “In 2021, at Fairbanks Memorial Hospital, we had a total of six patients that elected to be organ donors that were able to make those lifesaving gifts - and across those six organ donors, a total of 19 organs were able to be successfully transplanted into a donor recipient. That’s just... it’s an incredible number, and one of the things that I think that all in healthcare can agree on is that this is becoming a more popular decision for people to make when they opt into the organ donation program. Also as medical technology improves, and this process improves over time, more people are able to make those life saving gifts at the end of their own life. So while it is sad, it is also exciting to know that those life saving gifts are being made.”
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