Dr. Kristina Krmpotic is a pediatric intensivist in the Pediatric Intensive Care Unit (PICU). Her job is to provide clinical care to critically ill children. In her day-to-day work she interacts closely with nursing staff, respiratory therapists, clinical team members, and of course – families.
Beyond her role in PICU, Krmpotic is also the co-chair of the Organ and Tissue Donation Oversight Committee responsible for reviewing all policies and procedures related to organ and tissue donation at the IWK. She is the provincial lead for Pediatric Organ Donation with Legacy of Life and is the donation lead for the Academic Training Program of the Canadian Donation and Transplantation Research Program.
“I think there are a lot of people who think that organ donation is a common event when people die. But it’s actually a really unique and rare opportunity. Very few people who die are actually even eligible to be organ donors. So when the opportunity presents itself for someone to be an organ or tissue donor, it is an incredibly rare event – a really unique opportunity. I think a lot of people don’t realize that.”
Krmpotic has witnessed, first-hand, the impact organ donation has on families.
“I remember one family where every time we came into the room and told them that another one of their child’s organs had been accepted, they were overcome with emotion that their child was giving this gift – the gift of life to someone who was waiting.”
Organ donation has touched Krmpotic’s own family too. Seven years ago her uncle was the recipient of a lung from a donor family. “He’s been around for all three of my children. Last month he became a grandfather and he told me he never thought he would see that day.”
She encourages all families to talk openly about their wishes. “Talk to your family. When families are asked to make those decisions sometimes they actually don’t know what their loved one would want because it’s never been discussed,” says Krmpotic.
“I think as health care providers we need to offer options for organ and tissue donation as part of routine end of life care practices. It’s what families want. Not necessarily that they want their loved one to become a donor, but they want to have the choice. Many families actually report that it helps with the bereavement process.”
April 21-27 is National Organ and Tissue Donation Awareness Week – a time to celebrate organ and tissue donation and raise awareness about the critical need for more donors. Talk to your family. Learn more and register your intent.
Article written by Terri Fraser