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Lehigh Regional Medical Center earns honor

By Staff | Oct 23, 2019

Lehigh Regional Medical Center has received the Platinum Award from Lifelink of Florida, the highest award one can receive.

LifeLink Manager of Public Affairs Ashley Moore said they partner with a lot of local hospitals for their national campaign. Through that partnership LifeLink assists the hospitals in promoting donation education.

“They were really excited that we were able to give the Platinum Award,” Moore said of Lehigh Regional Medical Center. “It’s the highest level of appreciation for this particular hospital campaign. The campaign runs Oct. 1 through April 31 of every year. The hospital has to participate in different activities and has to achieve a certain amount of points.”

Some of those activities include providing donation registration opportunities for staff, opportunities for the public – such as at health fairs – and hosting donor flagging services.

For the last six years, Moore said they have been working on this campaign with Lehigh Regional Medical Center.

“The more we work together, the better we educate the community about donation,” she said. “The biggest thing we are trying to do is educate what it means to be a donor and how to register to save lives.”

During the special ceremony last week, Dana Grey and her granddaughter Hannah Bogue-Grey, 12, spoke of the importance of organ and tissue donations.

Grey’s daughter, Danielle Bogue, was 22 when she passed away in April 2007. Bogue was driving home from Fort Lauderdale with her then 4-month-old baby Hannah, when a tire blew and her vehicle rolled. Grey said her daughter was airlifted to the Lee Trauma Center in Fort Myers.

“They did everything they could, but we didn’t have the outcome we hoped for,” Grey said.

The family soon began talking about organ donation, due to a conversation Danielle had with them when she was 16 years old – organ donation when she died.

Bogue saved five lives: gave the gift of sight to two and helped countless others through tissue donations.

Never in the family’s wildest dreams did they think they would meet one of the recipients of their daughter’s organs. Grey said Hannah, who they adopted, had the opportunity to meet the man who received her mother’s heart.

Grey said the connection and closure of Hannah hearing her mother’s heartbeat was an unforeseen positive that came through it all.

“It helped her in a fantastic way. Hearing that heartbeat, that changed her life for the better,” Grey said.

“We are still friends with the heart recipient,” Grey said of Andrew Spehr. “He still has Danielle’s heart and is doing very well. We do keep in contact. He always lets me know if he is going in for a checkup and how it went. He takes trips and calls me and tells me how it was,” Grey said.

In addition, Spehr also spends time with Hannah helping her on occasion with her homework, or just hanging out.

“It’s a great thing. He is family, because he really is,” Grey said.

She said being an organ donor is amazing for both sides.

“It’s amazing from the donor family. There is a comfort that your loved one is a hero and goes on and saves lives. From the other side of it . . . the people you help. This is someone’s child, someone’s parent and someone’s sibling,” Grey said. “We are helping this entire family. We are bringing joy to them. You can turn that tragedy around and do something positive, focus on life rather than death. It’s just a good thing from both ends.”

The Grey family is always looking for ways to spread the message about organ and tissue donations. This year they made a video on the Sanibel Causeway with Tiki Tom Toms & The Pineapple Beach Party, featuring the song “Without You.”

She said the song was written from the perspective of an organ recipient.

“We are always trying to come up with something new to reach people. The lyrics are just amazing. He couldn’t have done a better job. The volunteers, of course, were featured and Danielle’s heart recipient was in it. It made for a nice video,” Grey said. “It’s pretty touching. Really deep lyrics. I can’t say enough about them.”

The YouTube video can be found athttps://youtu.be/UCerd0D8FfA.

Those who would like to become a donor can visit DonateLifeFlorida.org, or RegisterMe.org.

Moore said they appreciate Lehigh Regional Medical Center’ support.

“Donation is a collaborative effort and it takes a village,” she said.

Moore said one person has the potential to enhance eight lives by becoming an organ donor and 75 others through tissue donations.

“You really have a lot of people you can help when you are gone,” she said, adding that nothing prevents someone from becoming a donor, regardless of health and age.

Moore said one of the reasons the campaign is so important is because there are 113,000 men, women and children waiting in the United States for a life-saving organ transplant.

“We lose about 22 people every day in the United Sates because they didn’t have an organ for them in time,” she said.

Jackie Arsenault, director of business development and marketing for Lehigh Regional Medical Center, said the hospital has had two organ donors so far this year.