ABOUT NSH

The National Society for Histotechnology is a professional member organization for individuals actively involved in the histology profession. NSH has over 3,000 members worldwide, and is the leading provider of histology focused continuing education.  

SOCIALS 

SUBSCRIBE 

Never miss a post. Subscribe to Fixation on Histology. 

© 2023 by FEEDs & GRIDs. Proudly created with Wix.com

  • NSH

LifeGift

Updated: Dec 20, 2019

By: Sara Sheppard, HTL (ASCP)

As Histotechnologists we are passionate about helping patients, even though we may not see them face-to-face. Besides having a fantastic career where I know I am making a difference; I find volunteering for a cause I am passionate about adds to the rewarding feeling of helping others. Especially after a long and exhausting week at work, volunteering reminds me why I have a career in healthcare.


I started volunteering with LifeGift, an organ procurement organization in Texas, after my father received a life-saving heart transplant in May 2018. Before his transplant he received double bypass surgery, heart ablations, cardioversions, two different pacemakers, and implantable cardioverter-defibrillators. He was in end-stage advanced heart failure and was in desperate need of a transplant. My family was living with fear every minute as we waited for a call from the transplant center saying they found a heart. There is a shortage of registered organ donors and over 113,000 people are waiting for lifesaving transplants. I want others to have the same opportunity my father had, so I started volunteering to help raise awareness for the cause.

I spoke to high school classes about my father’s story and the importance of organ donation. One of the students had a question on the matching process of organ donors and recipients. I told them about the frozen section the pathologists perform for examining the viability of organs from a potential donor.


I also shared the information I knew about human leukocyte antigen matching that takes place in another area of the clinical laboratory. That interaction reminded me what I am a part of and the impact I make on a patient’s life. At a LifeGift volunteer holiday event, I met a heart and kidney recipient who had his transplants at the hospital I work for. He was fascinated to hear the histology processes that occur with removed organs from transplant because he questioned where his removed organs went. At another volunteer event, I was volunteering with another Histotechnologist who happens to be a kidney recipient. It was such a coincidence because there are not many of us Histotechnologists out there! Since the typical person has no idea what a Histotechnologist is and sometimes it seems easier just to say, “I work in a lab”, our conversation went something like this:


“So, what do you do for a living?”

“I work in a lab.”

“Oh! Me too!”

“I work in a pathology lab as a histotech.”

“Oh, wow! Me too! What a small world!”


It has been rewarding to see my two passions overlap from all these experiences. In February 2019, I wrote a post Donate Life featured on their social media accounts which reflects how these two worlds meet and the meaning it provides to me:


"This might sound a little cheesy – since I basically whispered to a stained slide of liver today…In the pathology lab whenever I see stained slides of tissue from a deceased donor (for the process of matching the donor with a recipient) I can’t help but to whisper out ‘thank you’ as I say the person’s name in my head while I think to myself ‘you are saving a life.’ As much as I love being behind the scenes in healthcare as a histotechnologist, it feels like I am missing a story about the patient since I have no interactions with them or their family like nurses do. I might know nothing about the patient but with donors it’s cathartic to know that they decided to give the gift of life. Just that alone tells a lot about a person. My father received a heart transplant May 2018 and every day I thank the donor and everyone in the medical field that made it happen. I also think about everyone behind the scenes who works in a lab like I do that help with the matching process. Everyone in the organ donation and transplant process has a crucial role in saving lives. I will be forever thankful to the people who helped with my father's heart transplant and forever grateful for the role I have in helping others."


As health care professionals we have a desire to help others. We can fill that desire by working directly with patients and indirectly by having a role as a laboratory professional. Finding an organization to volunteer with can help fill that desire further. Working as a Histotechnologist and volunteering with LifeGift brings meaning to my life as I help others through the work I do and the time I give volunteering.


370 views2 comments