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Transplant flag and its travels

A flag is recognized as a worldwide symbol of pride, flying to represent a location, country, or even flying for a specific reason. At my hospital, flying below the American flag, is a modest white flag that flies only sporadically, on special occasions, but occasions that are well worth recognizing.

I can remember shortly after I started at Children’s trying to depict the rhyme or reason behind the flying of white flag. Was it there every Monday to kick off the work week? Did it fly on holidays? It was not until I read the small print on the proud flier found at the entrance of the hospital that I realized the true beauty its significance. The flag reads,

“An organ transplant is saving the life of a child today.”

Alas, the Children’s transplant flag at its finest, flying each day that a child receives an organ transplant.

It just so happened I wasn’t the only person captivated by the intrigue of the transplant flag. Amidst discussion with a dear friend of mine who also works for Children’s, she informed me of a project she was working on involving the flag. Perhaps the hospital is being selfish for only sharing this news of ultimate sacrifice with those who drive by the entrance? Her idea involved getting this 4ft x 6ft message outside the boundaries of the hospital grounds and sharing it with the world. Her project turned into a documentation of the transplant flag and its travels, where those associated with Children’s transplant pack the flag in their suitcases and take a picture with the flag at their destination, spreading the joy around the globe. Although the project is less than a year old, the flag has been hoisted at nearly a dozen locations. There are pictures of the flag at Zoo Atlanta in the arms of a child transplant recipient, atop Mt. Kilimanjaro in Africa, in various locations across the countryside of Ireland, at a pediatric conference in Acapulco, at Ruby Falls in Tennessee, and in Belize on a couple’s honeymoon trip. The flag will next be heading to Siberia with the cardiac team.

Every day that I drive into work, not only do I look up to see if the transplant flag is flying, but I look forward to hearing about its next destination. Organ transplantation is a fascinating field and I have seen firsthand children given a second chance at life thanks to transplant. What better way to acknowledge that beauty than to have those directly involved in transplants share their life experiences and travels with the world? Some whose travels, and lives for that matter, would be non-existent if it weren’t for the transplant.

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Nicole Lehr

Nicole Lehr is a pediatric nurse. She can be described in three adjectives: content, thankful and fortunate. All credit for the aforementioned description can be given to the love she has for her profession as an RN. She graduated from University of Florida with her Bachelor’s in Nursing and moved to Atlanta to work at the Cardiac Stepdown Unit at Children’s — her dream job.
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