On Thanksgiving Day, our family had much to be thankful for. Henry Ford gave us the opportunity to generate awareness about living donor liver transplant in three major ways. First, Dave and Mark were invited to be a part of Detroit’s Thanksgiving Day parade as Henry Ford Health parade float participants. They wore matching jackets and Detroit Lions hats as they waved to fans along the parade route. They are pictured above with nurse Nemie Beltran who is the coordinator of Henry Ford’s Living Donor Liver Transplant program. Local TV station WDIV broadcasted the parade and explained to viewers that Dave and Mark, a transplant patient and his living donor, were a part of the parade float this year.
Second, the station created a special two minute educational segment which was shown to viewers. It featured Dr. Frank McGeorge who is an ER doctor at Henry Ford Hospital as well as a health reporter for WDIV. During the segment, Dr. McGeorge interviewed Dr. Deepak Venkat who is a liver transplant specialist at Henry Ford. Dr. Venkat said that he’s been a part of 30 or 40 living donor transplants in his six years with Henry Ford. He added that living donation is the most gratifying part of his work because it’s a true display of human generosity. He also explained how living donor liver transplant works and shared an animation which showed a portion of a donor’s liver being given to a recipient. In both patients, their livers grew back to full size in about eight weeks. Dr. McGeorge also interviewed Dave and Mark to get their perspective three years after their transplant experience. Dave shared his deep gratitude for Mark’s gift while Mark said the experience changed his life. He said it was a gift that was given to him because it changed his perspective regarding what’s important in life.
Finally, Henry Ford Health also invited us to be a part of a special Thanksgiving commercial about gratitude. In it, Dave recounts his personal medical journey that led to liver failure and shared his gratitude for Mark’s amazing gift. As Dave’s wife, I was honored to be a part of this commercial as was Mark’s wife and Dave’s parents. By being willing to share our family’s story, we were able to reach thousands of Michigan residents with information about living donor liver transplant. The spot aired throughout Thanksgiving Day: during the Detroit parade, the afternoon Detroit Lions football game and the late evening news. Henry Ford Health said the spot has generated lots of positive community response. We also experienced the impact ourselves. After the parade, Dave and Mark were approached by a woman who had been considering being a non-directed living donor for someone she did not know. After getting to know them and their story, she said she was going to take the next step regarding donor evaluation. In addition, Dave and our daughter, Sarah, were approached by a woman considering living donor liver transplant. They were able to answer many of her and her family’s questions about Henry Ford Health and the procedure.
We were pleased to have three opportunities to increase awareness of a procedure that is saving lives.