Harlingen – She works alongside physicians in the assessment, care and management of
stroke patients. She performs concurrent review and chart studies while
maintaining databases for trauma patients and supports the quality improvement
program to evaluate care for trauma patients. She offers educational presentations
to the community on stroke and trauma. On top of these daily responsibilities
Ginger Cunningham, Trauma and Stroke Programs Coordinator at Harlingen
Medical Center, is educating the community on organ donation and helping
secure organs for those in need of an organ transplant in the Rio Grande Valley.
"April is National Donate Life and it is especially important, right
now, to educate the community at large about the need for organ donation
and the significance of being a donor," said Cunningham. "Now
is the time for those of us who collaborate with organizations such as
the Texas Organ Sharing Alliance (TOSA) to bring this topic to the forefront
and offer people the answers they most want."
It is that commitment to the campaign of raising awareness for organ donation
that got Cunningham a prestigious recognition from the Texas Organ Sharing
Alliance. Recently she was presented the "Donate Life Award"
"This recognition is bestowed upon people like Ginger, who go above
and beyond the call of duty to help facilitate the process of organ donation,"
said Jesse Lara, TOSA Hospital Donor Services Coordinator, in a written
statement to Harlingen Medical Center. "She has embraced the effort
to educate and expedite organ donation."
The "Donate Life Award" was presented at a luncheon, hosted by
TOSA in Harlingen, and offered Cunningham recognition for her dedication
to the campaign.
"Being recognized by TOSA is an absolute honor for me," said
Cunningham. "This recognition means a lot, because this affirms my
involvement with TOSA, my engagement with the community that my hospital
serves, and it has enables me to feel that I am making a difference in
According to Lara, one of the reasons for which Cunningham was recognized
this year was for her assistance in obtaining and then arranging for the
transport of a "slush machine" to a hospital in the mid-Valley.
This assisted with the process of organ recovery – ensuring that
a needed person would receive the vital organ being donated.
Organ donation statistics indicate that there are far more people in need
of an organ transplant than there are people willing to donate an organ.
Organ donors are always in short supply. Furthermore, statistics indicate
more people in the U.S. alone are waiting for an organ transplant. And,
about 4,000 more are added to the national waiting list every day.
"Organ donations do not only come from the deceased," said Cunningham.
"There are plenty of living donors out there."
Organ donation statistics indicate you can actually donate a part, or all,
of some of your organs and live a comfortable life afterwards. You may
be able to donate a whole kidney, or part of the pancreas, intestine,
liver or lung. Your body will compensate for the missing organ or organ
part. However, if it is determined that donating an organ, or part of
an organ, will put your health at risk in the long or short term, then
you will not be accepted as a donor.
An organ recipient's medical insurance, or the transplant program assisting
with a transplant, may cover medical testing and other hospital expenses
for a donor.
"It is important for people who are considering becoming a living
organ donor to understand that the organ donation surgery comes with risks,"
said Cunningham. "Organ donation is major surgery and so there are
risks involved. But, if someone is thinking about donating an organ to
their spouse, child, parent, sibling, or a close friend, think of the
reward in that. You are literally saving the life of your loved one. Organ
donation is a beautiful gift – if you really think about it. It's
not for everyone, but it is a remarkable gesture of love."
To learn more about how you can become a registered organ donor and/or
participate in National Donate Life Awareness Month, contact the Texas
Organ Sharing Alliance at (866) 687-0277 or visitwww.txorgansharing.org.
If you would like to invite Cunningham to speak at your place of business
on Trauma and/or Stroke, she may be contacted at Harlingen Medical Center's
Emergency Room at (956) 365-1181.