As hospital employees lined the fourth floor hallway, one unnamed yet heroic patient at St. Luke’s Meridian Medical Center in Idaho was celebrated with a “Walk of Respect” Thursday.
The hospital staff members lined the space between the intensive care unit and the elevators to pay their respects to a 53-year-old patient who gave his life to help others.
“It started our grieving process,” Deb Compton, director of the ICU at St. Luke’s, told Faithwire. “It really gave us the chance to say, ‘Hey, this is a significant event. What a thing we’ve just witnessed and what an honor it is to be a part of this family’s life at this point in time.’”
Emotional moment at @stlukeshealth #MyMeridian. Walk of Respect: Staff at hospital stop to line halls of ICU to show respect for the 2nd patient this week providing the life-saving gift of #organdonation. ??#Donatelife Thank you to family for allowing us to honor him and share. pic.twitter.com/CMjG8OhTkE
— Anita Kissée (@StLukesAnita) September 27, 2018
Staff at St. Luke’s give such send-offs when patients or their families make the heroic and selfless decision to be removed from life support and immediately donate their organs to others in need.
Compton said the tradition started a few years ago, when a patient decided she wanted to be an organ donor. “We had bonded with that family, and when that patient left, she took a piece of us,” Compton recalled.
The medical director said the “Walk of Respect” was born out of the relationship hospital staff developed with that young patient. She said the workers at St. Luke’s wanted to honor organ donors, noting the way John F. Kennedy, Jr., saluted his father, former President John F. Kennedy, at his funeral and those who pull to the side of the road as a funeral procession passes by.
“To bring that light to organ donation,” she said, “I know that there’s going to be a trickle-down effect where somebody, one person, signs up [to be an organ donor] on their driver’s license, and it’s going to make a difference.”
Compton said the send-offs help those left behind — family and friends — start the mourning process while also celebrating their loved ones’ decision to donate their organs to others in need.
“I do hope other hospitals will implement this because it does help — not only the patient’s family, but the team,” Compton explained. “From a nursing perspective, it’s so easy moving on to the next patient, and if you don’t deal with that grief, it’s going to add up.”
“I’m hopeful nurses will be able to stay at the bedside and give a piece of themselves, without having to brush it off, with being able to deal with their emotions and loss,” she added.
The patient was honored Thursday at 11:45 a.m. He has since passed and his organs have been donated to the Pacific Northwest Transplant Bank.