PRMC Dresses in Green for Organ Donation Awareness

Peninsula Regional Medical Center staff members, as well as organ donation supporters, donor families and recipients and families, came out to show their support at a Donate Life flag raising and Dressin Green photo on Friday, April 17, 2015.

Peninsula Regional Medical Center staff members, as well as organ donation supporters, donor families and recipients and families, came out to show their support at a Donate Life flag raising and Dressin Green photo on Friday, April 17, 2015.

Thank you to everyone who came out for the Donate Life Month Dress in Green photo at Peninsula Regional Medical Center. A special thanks to Amy Bush, RN, of 5 Layfield, her dad and her son who came to help show how much organ donation can help a family (if you missed her family’s story, click here). Another big thank-you to Linda Sellers, who also came to the Dress in Green photo and had the chance to once again thank her organ donor’s family in person. Click here for Linda’s story. Having a donor family, the Ritters, in attendance made the event even more impactful.

Please visit Donate Life Maryland if you’re not already registered to become an organ donor.

 

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‘The Happiest, Scariest and Saddest Day of My Life’ – A PRMC Nurse’s Organ Transplant Story

dlm2015_be seen in greenWhen Linda Sellers was working at her family’s home care assistance business, the Angel’s Network, she made a connection with employees there, Peggy and Wendi Ritter. They grew to know each other’s families well, and the Ritters learned that Linda had a rare autoimmune disease that was attacking her liver. Linda was keeping it under control with medication, but only a liver transplant would fully restore her health.

Linda came to work at Peninsula Regional Medical Center as an RN on 3 Layfield, where she cared for patients and occasionally ended up a patient herself due to complications with her disease. But she kept her spirits up and continued trying to manage her disease, work full time and care for her children and grandchildren.

In May 2014, tragedy struck close to home: the Ritters’ home in Princess Anne went up in flames. Ed Ritter, Peggy’s husband and Wendi’s father, was severely injured. “The firefighters did CPR, they brought him here, they transferred him to Shock Trauma – they never stopped working on him,” Linda said. But he never regained consciousness.

When the Ritter family learned that Ed would not make it, they asked about organ donation. They remembered that Linda needed an organ, and if Ed was a match, they wanted his liver to go to her.

“I had been on the Virginia organ registry, and had just been put on the Maryland organ registry a few months earlier,” Linda said. “I had gone through all the tests but I wasn’t expecting to get a call.” And even after a donor was waiting to be matched with her, she didn’t – they couldn’t track her down.

The Ritter family and the Living Legacy Foundation managed to get hold of Linda’s supervisor on 3 Layfield and explained the situation, and Linda’s supervisor was able to track her down on her cellphone. Linda learned about the tragedy, and the hope that was being offered to her.

“When they told me, I still didn’t get my hopes up. There were so many things that had to line up right – would his liver be healthy, would it be a match for me? I ended up going to bed like normal that night,” she said.

But at 3 a.m., she got the call: Ed’s liver was a match, and she needed to get across the bridge right away. “I thought I was dreaming,” Linda said, and she laid in bed a while trying to decide if it was really happening. Finally it hit her – she was having a liver transplant – that day!

“I didn’t know who to call first; I wasn’t ready,” she said. The reality didn’t hit her until she received a panicked phone call from the transplant team. They were scrubbed in, but she was still driving over the Bay Bridge. “I was late for my transplant,” Linda admits.

“When I walked in, the whole team rushed me and started prepping me. The Ritter family was there to say goodbye to Ed when he passed. It was the happiest, scariest and saddest day of my life. Every emotion was so strong – I can’t even explain it, and it’s something not many people experience.”

She called her children to make sure she spoke to them before the operation; as a nurse, Linda was acutely aware of everything that could go wrong.

Fortunately, everything went right for Linda. The transplant went well; five days later she was home, and just 12 weeks later, she was back to working full-time in her nursing job. “I think I bounced back well because I was used to helping patients recover,” she said. “I knew the kind of rehab that’s needed, and I knew how getting up and moving helps you get better.”

Linda is still overwhelmed by the generosity of the Ritter family. “For them to think about me, in the midst of their tragedy – they are very kind and generous people,” she said. He had given the life-saving gift of organ donation not only to Linda, but to people on the registry who received his other organs as well. In September, on what would have been Ed Ritter’s 65th birthday, they came to visit Linda while she was working on the floor.

“It made them feel closer to Ed,” she said. A part of him was still alive and making a difference in the world.

Ed’s family told Linda that his two favorite things were brownies and Budweiser. In July, on Linda’s birthday, that’s how she celebrated – she took her friends to Ocean City and they each had a sip of Bud in his honor. “The only reason I have birthdays to celebrate is because of him, so I will think of him every time,” Linda said.

Linda, along with Peggy and Wendi Ritter, will be at the Donate Life flag raising on Friday, April 17 at 8:30 a.m. Please join them in honoring those who choose to give the gift of life.

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Junior Auxiliary Board Appoints New Officers

Jr Board Installation

The 2015-2016 officers and board members of Peninsula Regional Medical Center’s Junior Auxiliary Board were recently installed at the group’s annual meeting.

In the photo are, from left, Cynthia Holloway, Immediate Past President; Susan Peacock, Vice President of Human Resources; Donna Anderson, President Elect; Joanne Jackson, President; Irene Phillips, Vice President of Retail; Jani Long, Recording Secretary; Mary Lou Zimmer, Treasurer; Jane Corcoran, Vice President of Finance; Pat Kern, Board Member; and Cheryl Wootten, Board Member.

The Junior Auxiliary Board at Peninsula Regional Medical Center was established in 1924. Junior Board membership is open to everyone in the community. For information on joining, call Faye Holloway, Volunteer Coordinator, at 410-543-7262.

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Diabetes Events at Peninsula Regional on April 13 and 16

Dr. Joan Parambi will speak about diabetes and neuropathy at a fere PRMC event on April 16.

Dr. Joan Parambi will speak about diabetes and neuropathy at a free PRMC event on April 16.

The Peninsula Regional Endocrinology and Diabetes Center and its Diabetes Education Program invite anyone interested in learning more about diabetes to attend a free events next week.

First up: The Diabetes Support Group will meet from 7:00 to 8:00 p.m. Monday, April 13, 2015 in the Avery W. Hall Educational Center Auditorium on the Peninsula Regional campus. This month, there will be a demonstration of how to make a healthy dish, Crunchy Apple Salad, by Andrea Olson, MS, RD, LDN, CDE of the Diabetes Education Department.

Whether you, a member of your family or a friend has diabetes, participating in a support group can and will assist you in coping with the concerns the disease brings. Presentations include information on how to better manage and live with diabetes. Topics vary from month to month, and the group provides an excellent opportunity for all participants to share beneficial ideas and experiences. There are no dues or fees to attend. For more information about the support group meetings or if you have questions about diabetes, please call the Diabetes Education Program at Peninsula Regional Medical Center at 410-543-7061.

Then, on Thursday, April 16, 2015, join us for “Diabetes and Neuropathy: New and Emerging Treatments,” a diabetes awareness event. Joan Parambi, MD, an endocrinologist with the Peninsula Regional Endocrinology and Diabetes Center in Salisbury, will keynote the session.

The event begins at 5:00 p.m. with exhibits from companies involved in diabetes care and services until 6:15 p.m. Dr. Parambi’s presentation will begin at 6:30 p.m. and last approximately one hour.

The program will be held in the auditorium of the Avery W. Hall Educational Center on the Peninsula Regional Medical Center campus. Free parking will be provided at the Avery W. Hall Educational Center, located at the corner of Waverly Drive and Vine Street, in the parking lot directly across Vine Street or in the adjacent Garage B. An RSVP is required; please call Peninsula Regional Endocrinology and Diabetes Center’s Diabetes Education Program at 410-543-7061. There is no cost to attend.

The Peninsula Regional Endocrinology and Diabetes Center’s Diabetes Education Program is certified by the American Diabetes Association. To learn more about the program or available diabetes and endocrinology services at PRMC, call 410-543-7061.

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DAISY Award Honors PRMC Nurse Amy Bush

Amy Bush, RN, has earned the Daisy Award for Extraordinary Nurses.

Amy Bush, RN, has earned the Daisy Award for Extraordinary Nurses.

Families need to know their loved ones are in good hands in the hospital. Nurses who demonstrate not only great clinical care but also exceptional compassion are the ones who make the biggest difference. That’s why Amy Bush, RN, a nurse on Peninsula Regional Medical Center’s 5 Layfield unit, has earned the Daisy Award for Extraordinary Nurses for the month of April.Bush was nominated for the award by a patient’s family member, who wrote, “My mother’s memory is very bad, so she would ask Amy the same question, over and over. We were aware how time-consuming it was for the nurses when she would repeat her thoughts and questions. Amy would always let her finish her thoughts and would always repeat her answers. Amy was beyond caring. She made my mother feel at home rather than feel like she was at the hospital. My mother felt comfortable with her. Her eyes would light up when Amy came in to check on her.”

The family member noted that at the end of a long shift, Bush made sure to stop in to the patient’s room to say goodbye. “Not only did she come and say goodbye, she gave my mother her evening medication instead of her new nurse, tucked my mother into bed and chatted with her several minutes, even though she had just worked a 14-hour shift. I’m so blessed that my mother was treated with such compassion from Amy.”

Bush was honored with the Daisy Award in a ceremony before her colleagues, and received a certificate commending her for being an extraordinary nurse. The certificate reads: “In deep appreciation of all you do, who you are, and the incredibly meaningful difference you make in the lives of so many people.” She was also given fresh daisies, and a sculpture called A Healer’s Touch, hand-carved by artists of the Shona Tribe in Zimbabwe.

To nominate an exceptional nurse, visit www.peninsula.org/DaisyAward and share a story.

The not-for-profit DAISY Foundation is based in Glen Ellen, CA, and was established by family members in memory of J. Patrick Barnes. Patrick died at the age of 33 in late 1999 from complications of Idiopathic Thrombocytopenic Purpura (ITP), a little-known but not uncommon auto-immune disease. The care Patrick and his family received from nurses while he was ill inspired this unique means of thanking nurses for making a profound difference in the lives of their patients and patient families.

President and Co-Founder of The DAISY Foundation Bonnie Barnes said, “When Patrick was critically ill, our family experienced firsthand the remarkable skill and care nurses provide patients every day and night. Yet these unsung heroes are seldom recognized for the super-human work they do. The kind of work the nurses at PRMC are called on to do every day epitomizes the purpose of The DAISY Award.”

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Donate Life Month: Peninsula Regional Nurse Shares Her Family’s Story

Before and after photos show the incredible impact that a liver transplant had for Caroline.

Before and after photos show the incredible impact that a liver transplant had for Caroline.

Caroline Wheeler was just 4 when she was first diagnosed with a serious autoimmune disease. Her mother, Amy Bush – and Caroline’s whole family – became accustomed to the effects of living with a chronic health condition. In fact, Amy says, it made her decide she had the skills to go from being an administrative assistant to a nurse. When Caroline was 9, Bush applied to nursing school.

She never expected that at the same time, Caroline was about to undergo a process that would change all of their lives: a liver transplant.

“When you live with someone every day, it’s hard to see the incremental changes,” Bush said. She knew her daughter had primary sclerosing cholangitis, a chronic disease that damages the liver’s bile ducts and causes bile to accumulate in the liver. But she didn’t realize quite how serious it had become until Caroline’s annual physical.

“Dr. (Sadaat) Panni is Caroline’s pediatrician, and I can’t say enough good about his dedication, kindness, and expertise. I thank him for being the impetus for Caroline getting the transplant when she needed it,” Bush said. At the physical, Dr. Panni noticed Caroline’s deteriorating health, something that hadn’t been obvious to everyone who saw her every day. “He said, ‘We need to do something about her liver disease now.’ ”

Caroline and her family met with a team at Georgetown University Hospital’s Pediatric Transplant Institute in January 2009. “They didn’t just screen her, but the whole family,” Bush said, explaining that psychosocial aspects of the family such as understanding the importance of the anti-rejection medications are vital to the success of an organ transplant.

The phone call

Caroline continued along at school and seemed to be fine, Amy said – so she was shocked when she got a call in June, less than six months later, telling her to bring her daughter to Georgetown immediately. A donor liver had become available.

“I was shocked,” Bush said. “I thought, she’s going to school, she’s not lying in a hospital bed hooked up to machines – I didn’t realize she was sick enough to need a transplant so quickly. I thought we had more time. It was completely unexpected, and I felt so unprepared.” But the 4:30 a.m. phone call jolted her to reality. The family headed to Washington, D.C.

“What I didn’t realize, which now makes sense, is that when an organ is available, they call more than one family,” Bush said. “If Caroline had been too sick for surgery or the organ didn’t seem right for her, they’d give it to someone else.”

As it turned out, the organ was healthy, and a good match for Caroline. It had come from a teenage boy who had been in an auto accident. She would receive the larger lobe, and an infant would get the smaller one.

It was good news, but also – “it was terrifying,” said Bush, who still chokes up at the memory. “I had tears pouring down my face, and I had to look away so Caroline didn’t see, because I knew if anything went wrong with this surgery, they couldn’t just change their minds and put back her old liver. Once they start, you survive, or you don’t. I could lose her that day. I can’t even describe the moment they took her back.”

The waiting was intense, too. It was two hours before the family got an update that the team had prepared everything and had just made the first cut. “I can’t imagine the preparation that goes into cutting the connection of a life-sustaining organ,” Bush said.

The surgery is very complex and takes many hours.

“Slowly, one by one, the other families waiting got their word and left until it was just us in the darkened waiting room. When those elevator doors finally parted close to 9 hours later, there stood Dr. Cal Matsumoto, the surgeon who saved our daughter’s life, illuminated by a bright light over his brilliant head, almost like a halo – a cinematographer could not have set it better,” she remembered.

“Our hearts were in our throats, but he confidently strode toward us like the hero that he is and told us that everything had gone beautifully. I don’t think I heard much after that point, I will admit. I do vividly remember him telling us that when the new liver was finally connected, Caroline’s enlarged spleen ‘drained like a water balloon’ and the liver began functioning immediately. All I could think was that our daughter was still alive!”

Two hours later, Bush finally saw her daughter through a crowd of healthcare workers, tubes and pumps. And just a week later, Caroline was home.

Life after the transplant

Another amazing thing happened the day after Caroline’s surgery: Bush was accepted into the nursing program at Wor-Wic Community College. Overshadowed as it was by the transplant, this was also a life-changer for Bush. She went on to earn her BSN at Wilmington University, and now works as a nurse at Peninsula Regional Medical Center, where her knowledge of what it is like to be a family member of a patient brings a special compassion to her expert clinical care.

Later, Bush had time to reflect on the selfless decision made by the donor child’s family. “I know what it felt like, that fear that I could lose my child that day, unexpectedly. To have it actually happen, to have your child taken from you, and to have the generosity of spirit to be able to make the decision to have your child be an organ donor, it’s incredible,” she said. “Their child’s liver alone saved two lives, and who knows how many others were saved.”

She wrote a letter to the family of the donor a year after the transplant to let them know what a profound effect their choice had. While the donor family remains anonymous, Amy keeps them in her thoughts.

“I also think of the other families who were there that day in case Caroline had not been accepted for surgery,” she said. “I can’t imagine what that day was like for them, and I hope it worked out and that those children are better now too.”

Caroline still needs to take medications every day and be careful about her health. But five years after the transplant, she is healthy and happy. She has distinctive abdominal scars that her mom calls “the peace sign,” and Caroline is proud of them. “She wore a two-piece bikini to the beach in OC and a lady approached her and said, ‘My son has the same scar!’ and they had a whole conversation about the transplant experience.”

Bush says she hopes that everyone can understand the difference that organ donation makes in the lives of others, and will take steps to become a donor – she says she is certainly willing and hopes the donor family knows what an impact their decision made.

“The gratitude I feel towards a family I may never meet still fills my heart almost six years later. I will never forget that this symbolic anniversary that we celebrate every year represents an entirely different, and tragic, time of mourning for them. I hope that they find comfort in knowing that their son lives on in many other children who were recipients of their generosity on that amazing June day.”

 

If You Go

What: Donate Life Flag Raising: PRMC will fly the Donate Life flag in honor of Donate Life Month.

Where: Peninsula Regional Medical Center, Guerrieri Heart & Vascular Institute entrance

When: Friday, April 17, 8:30 a.m.

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Peninsula Regional Diabetes Support Group Meets April 13

The Peninsula Regional Medical Center Diabetes Education Department’s Diabetes Support Group will meet from 7:00 to 8:00 p.m. Monday, April 13, 2015 in the Avery W. Hall Educational Center Auditorium on the Peninsula Regional campus.

This month, there will be a demonstration of how to make a healthy dish, Crunchy Apple Salad, by Andrea Olson, MS, RD, LDN, CDE of the Diabetes Education Department.

Whether you, a member of your family or a friend has diabetes, participating in a support group can and will assist you in coping with the concerns the disease brings.  Presentations include information on how to better manage and live with diabetes.  Topics vary from month to month, and the group provides an excellent opportunity for all participants to share beneficial ideas and experiences.  There are no dues or fees to attend.

For more information about the support group meetings or if you have questions about diabetes, please call the Diabetes Education Program at Peninsula Regional Medical Center at 410-543-7061.

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