As a cardiac intensive care nurse at Johns Hopkins Bayview Medical Center, Kaitlyn Sebour spends her days caring for patients with heart conditions. Working with her team, she expertly monitors blood pressure, cardiac output, and other clinical indicators of how a heart functions. It is within this role that Kaitlyn became professionally acquainted with the organ donation and transplantation process.
She has been able to connect, as a nurse and a caring individual, with families who graciously think of others and decide to donate their loved one’s organs. She has witnessed a family turn “impossible sadness into everlasting hope, knowing they are saving multiple lives” through the gift of donation.
Before becoming a nurse, Kaitlyn wasn’t keen on becoming a donor herself. She readily admitted believing a few of those myths about donation, specifically the one about emergency professionals not saving her life if she had that organ donor heart on her license. Her training, experience, and education about the process have changed her mind and, as a medical professional, she knows her team, like all others, goes above and beyond the call of duty to try to save a life before donation is ever considered.
Earlier this year, Kaitlyn’s personal and professional lives merged unexpectedly. Her cousin Braden and his wife Laura were eagerly awaiting the birth of their first child when Laura began experiencing complications with her pregnancy. In mid-March, after a trip to their local Emergency Department, Laura was flown to University of Maryland Medical Center where she was diagnosed with peripartum cardiomyopathy – Laura was in heart failure due to her pregnancy. She was immediately taken for an emergency caesarean section, delivering a healthy baby boy they named Gabriel.
However, even after Gabriel’s birth, Kaitlyn’s condition continued to decline, leaving a heart transplant her only option for survival. Kaitlyn’s professional expertise in caring for cardiac patients was a great help to Laura and Braden. Kaitlyn’s unit at Bayview were a great support to her and her family, generously donating to a fundraising campaign and offering support, advice, and encouragement.
After two months of waiting, on Mother’s Day of all days, doctors informed Laura that a matching donor heart was available. While thinking of the donor and their mother, Laura prepared for surgery the following morning. Kaitlyn is happy to report that both Laura and Gabriel are home now and doing well.
Kaitlyn says, “I am honored to work directly with organ donation and now I am personally connected to donation forever. I get to see both perspectives now, which is so beautiful.”
Almost every week, we learn about another hospital staff member who has a personal connection to donation. We are privileged to work alongside hospital staff who themselves or members of their family have received or given a life-saving or life-enhancing organ, eye, or tissue transplant or who are waiting for a second chance at life.
For some, these are very personal stories that are not yet ready to be shared. For some, sharing is a welcome experience. If you are a hospital staff member with a special connection and want to share your story, please reach out to your Hospital Services Coordinator at firstname.lastname@example.org. If you’d prefer to keep it private, we respect that, too. Thank you for the work you do and the support you offer to saving lives each and every day.