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Long-Time Nurse Donates Multiple Organs After Suffering Fatal Medical Incident


Mary Desin worked at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center Hamot in Erie, Pennsylvania for over 30 years before suffering a fatal medical incident while on the job. She ultimately gave her life to the field of nursing, but she had one more gift to bestow upon her patients. After Desin lost her life, she donated multiple organs to the patients of UPMC Hamot. Learn more about this heartbreaking, yet inspirational story and what made Desin’s actions so extraordinary.

Honoring Mary Desin

Mary Desin truly understood what it meant to be a nurse. She gave over 30 years of her life to helping and saving countless patients at UPMC Hamot. After suffering a fatal medical incident one week prior, Mary Desin lost her life. But in her death, she did one last thing for her patients. She donated numerous organs to patients in need at the hospital.

As doctors wheeled her into the operating room to remove the organs on Friday, June 7th, over 100 hospital employees stood in the halls of the facility to say their final goodbyes. It was a heartwarming event that captured the essence of what Mary Desin was able to achieve during her time as a nurse at UMPC Hamot. Her colleagues commented on the fact that Desin always went above and beyond for her patients, and in her death, she gave everything she had to those in need.

As Senior Professional Staff Nurse Donny McDowell, Desin’s long-time co-worker, said in a statement, “It’s not about yourself; it’s about the people who are around you. It’s become a very ‘me’ world, but Mary was a nurse and she put other people before herself and even in her death she put others before herself.”

The UPMC Hamot building lights up with blue and green lights after every organ transplant. The hospital agreed to turn on the lights for 24 hours in honor of Mary Desin.

Donating Organs as a Nurse

Mary Desin understood the crucial need for organ donations in the U.S. According to the Health Resources & Services Administration, there were over 113,000 men, women and children on the national transplant waiting list as of January 2019. Last year, there were 17,553 organ donors, including 10,722 deceased donors and 6,831 living donors.

36,528 transplants were performed in 2018 alone, but there’s more work to be done. The Administration reports that the number of people on the organ transplant waiting list continues to be much larger than both the number of donors and transplants. In fact, 20 people die waiting for transplant organs every single day.

One organ donor can save up to eight lives by donating their heart, two lungs, two kidneys, intestines, liver and pancreas, assuming the donor’s organs are healthy.

Among those waiting for transplant organs:

  • 84.3% are waiting for kidney
  • 11.8% are waiting for a liver
  • 3.3% are waiting for a heart
  • 1.2% are waiting for a lung
  • And 2.2% are waiting for other types of organs

If you’re a nurse that’s interested in becoming an organ donor, you can register with the HRSA here. You can also tell your friends and family about your desire to donate your organs, so they can honor your wishes. To encourage others to register as organ donors, you can spread the word about the importance of donating organs on social media and among your colleagues.

Here at Scrubs Mag, we proudly salute the late Mary Desin for all she did for her patients while she was alive and after her death.


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