Henry Ford Center for Living Donation Helps Donors Attempt World Record in Chicago

April 26, 2018
Bean aerial photo resized


CHICAGO—Patients and staff from the Henry Ford Center for Living Donation participated in a record-setting celebration of kidney donors at “The Bean” in Chicago. 

Guinness World Records is verifying the record for most kidney donors gathered, after 438 patients from at least four countries and nearly 40 states registered at “Cloud Gate” in Millennium Park April 21. More than 250 kidney donors were required to set an official record. Guinness expects to make a formal announcement later this summer.  

“It was so amazing having such important people from my Henry Ford team with me in Chicago to support and sponsor this event,” said kidney donor Jodie Novak, 52, of Chesterfield Township, Mich.  “Words can't express the immediate bond you have with fellow donors. It's not just meeting a bunch of people – it's a family reunion with family you haven't met.”  

The Henry Ford Center for Living Donation, launched April 9, was one of two hospital-based groups to support the Chicago record-setting effort. The event was held in honor of April’s National Organ Donor Month.  

“Our new Center for Living Donation was created to provide high-level, concierge-type support to our donors,” said Henry Ford kidney transplant surgeon Jason Denny, M.D., the center’s director. “To be there for them in Chicago, supporting them and increasing awareness of the need for donors was a natural fit.”  

Four members of the Henry Ford Transplant Institute team discussed living donation with guests at an informational table set up in Millennium Park. The Transplant Institute celebrates its 50th anniversary this year – which began with a living donor kidney transplant. On January 4, 1968, 18-year-old Bette Jean Alderman received a kidney from her mother, Irene Alderman.  

“I saw three people wearing blue t-shirts in Chicago – a mom, dad and young son,” said Maria Zanini, Donor Nurse Practitioner for the Henry Ford Center for Living Donation. “Hers said, ‘He gave me a second chance at life.’ His said, ‘Because she is my life.’ Their son’s said, ‘Good thing because they are my life.’ For me, that sums up why we do what we do.”  

The Henry Ford Center for Living Donation provides organ donors with answers to questions about living donation, as well as support before, during and after their procedure. The wait time for an organ in Michigan can be as long as five years. Living donation shortens that considerably.  

“So many people came up to our table, thrilled about the Henry Ford Center for Living Donation being there – we were the talk of the town,” said Karen Middleton, Independent Living Donor Advocate for the Henry Ford Transplant Institute. “We were excited to be there to show our support for living donors and the gift of life.”  

The Chicago event was organized by Transplant Village, a group of organ recipients and donors affiliated with Northwestern Medicine, the Chicago-based research hospital connected with Northwestern University. In addition to increasing awareness across the Midwest about the need for organ donors, the event raised money to create a living organ donor fund at Northwestern Medicine, to help with expenses not covered by insurance. At the launch of Henry Ford’s Center for Living Donation on April 9, a $50,000 donation was announced to create a similar fund for Henry Ford patients in need.  

For more information about the Henry Ford Center for Living Donation, visit HenryFord.com/livingdonation. To join the Michigan organ donor registry, visit www.giftoflifemichigan.org/go/hfhs  

About Henry Ford Health System and Henry Ford Transplant Institute
Henry Ford Health System is a six-hospital system headquartered in Detroit, Michigan. It is one of the nation's leading comprehensive, integrated health systems, recognized for clinical excellence and innovation. Henry Ford Transplant Institute this year celebrates 50 years of providing the gift of life. Henry Ford Health System provides both health insurance and health care delivery, including acute, specialty, primary and preventive care services backed by excellence in research and education. Visit HenryFord.com to learn more.  

For more information about Cloud Gate, please visit: https://bit.ly/2EXh3zb

Photo courtesy of John F. Martin Photography.

Tammy Battaglia
Senior Specialist, Media Relations
Henry Ford Health System
248-881-0809 cell/text      


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