Palomar Health Nurse Shares Joy of Organ Donation


Even though the kidney transplant occurred more than a year ago, Palomar Health Nurse Educator Lisa Hernandez still gets choked up when talking about the gratitude her family feels for the donor who gave his kidney to her godson, Chris.

Lisa says Chris was a very active teenager; he was involved in sports when his kidneys began to fail. Eventually the family faced a choice: put Chris’s name on the donor recipient list or start dialysis treatments. Dialysis can be life altering with the need to go to the hospital several times a week for many hours at a time, plus the probable reality of still needing a kidney transplant as some time in the future.

The family chose a transplant and as a minor, Chris was placed on the priority list. About a month before his 18th birthday, Chris received word to go to the hospital because a matching donor had been found.

“It was like a miracle,” Lisa says. “It was a perfect match.”

In Chris’s case it was an unknown person who was about to pass away but had healthy kidneys. The national organ registry, Donate Life, worked with San Diego’s local chapter Lifesharing San Diego, to facilitate the organ transfer and transplant.

Now a little more than a year later, Chris is in college living a normal life, a life only made possible because of one family’s decision to donate their organs.

As a Trauma Center, Palomar Medical Center Escondido treats many patients facing end-of-life decisions. The highly-skilled trauma team can’t save everyone, and for those, the opportunity is given to save other lives. As a former ICU Nurse, Lisa experienced the other side of organ donation.

“They (surviving family members) are losing their loved ones and yet they’re not,” Lisa said. “Where there’s loss, there’s still life.”

The month of April is National Donate Life Month. To learn more about how you can become an organ donor, visit Lifesharing’s website.

Caption: Nurse Educator Lisa Hernandez gets emotional when talking about the life-saving kidney her godson/nephew received last year.

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