Born with a rare liver disease, Johns Hopkins Hospital nurse Clint Burns grew up with more days of sickness than health. At 24, deemed terminally ill, he was finally placed on the transplant list at The Johns Hopkins Hospital.
“I thought my road had come to an end, but I had a glimmer of hope that a donor family would say yes to organ donation,” recalls Burns. The following year, he received his gift: a liver that restored him almost immediately to health and allowed him to pursue a career and to start his family of four children.
Now 46, Burns serves as the hospital’s in-house coordinator for organ and tissue donation. He also helped create its new organ and tissue donor wall. The 6-by-16-foot display in the Nelson/Harvey Building, located across from the hospital’s gift shop, has a lustrous design with interlocking translucent bubbles and small, brightly colored panels. It features 475 names of deceased Johns Hopkins patients who donated their organs or tissues to those in need as well as the names of many who have registered to donate.
Burns and Brigitte Sullivan, director of the hospital’s Comprehensive Transplant Center, worked with an in-house design team to create this tribute when the organ donor memorial wall in the Carnegie corridor couldn’t fit any more names.
Working closely with the state’s Living Legacy Foundation, the organ procurement organization that supports families through the donation process, the interactive display includes inspirational stories from donor families and recipients, information about common organ donation myths and misconceptions, and an overview of the history of organ donation at Johns Hopkins.
A special feature will soon allow would-be organ donors to register through a touch-screen panel.
“The wall can be expanded, so the names listed will be here for many years and honored in a way they deserve,” Burns says. An annual ceremony will recognize new donor names.
He says the new memorial underscores the importance of the entire donation and transplant process: “Someone who has died can save eight lives and cure another who is terminally ill. There’s nothing like it in medicine. This wall honors that miracle.”
The wall’s design team is working with Johns Hopkins Bayview Medical Center and Howard County General Hospital to create similar displays.