Since 2016, the UC Davis Pediatric Intensive Care Unit (PICU) staff has been honoring organ donors with an honor guard procession. Now this tradition been extended to the Surgical Intensive Care Unit (SICU) and, soon, other intensive care units in UC Davis Medical Center.
The Honor Guard procession honors those patients and family who make the ultimate decision in choosing organ donation, similar to the respect given to police officers, military personnel and firefighters who die in the line of duty.
“The honor guard ceremony allows family members to see their loved ones as the hero that they are,” said UC Davis PICU nurse Virginia Wood, who started this tradition at UC Davis Children’s Hospital after seeing it in a Japanese documentary. “We recognize that this isn’t a decision that families take lightly. By choosing organ donation, they are saving so many lives and they should be honored.”
The PICU staff has received overwhelmingly positive feedback from organ donor families.
Families are invited to participate in the honor guard procession. Physicians, nurses, respiratory therapists, physical therapists, child life specialists, residents and nutrition staff have participated in this tradition.
“Some family members walk behind the bed of their loved ones. Others salute, with their hand over their heart, and stand with us,” Wood said.
Wood said that UC Davis Medical Center is the only hospital that offers this special tradition in the Northern California region that Sierra Donor Services serves.
UC Davis Medical Center honors one to three organ donors per month with a special procession.