'Gift From a Child' Tissue Navigator
Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital of Chicago
I’m Melissa Williams, Gift From a Child Tissue Navigator at Lurie Children’s Hospital. More than fifteen years ago I began a journey with donation. I worked for Gift of Hope Organ & Tissue Donor Network as a liaison with funeral directors and forensic professionals. There, I transitioned to a Designated Requester, counseling families on how to donate their loved ones' live-saving organs to programs at local hospitals. The experience working with these families confirmed my belief that as our loved ones pass on, they can still provide powerful gifts to change the lives of those still struggling with disease.
Since coming to Lurie I have learned so much about brain cancers and how devastating a diagnosis can be for a family. At the same time, I have been amazed at what medical science is doing to try and end these horrible cancers. There is no doubt in my mind that a cure will come. It will take efforts from many groups that are committed to this endeavor including patient families.
The families I have met are so inspirational. They don’t want other children to suffer as theirs have. They feel a sense of responsibility to their children who lost their battle, to end childhood cancer through donation and much-needed fundraising. These profound examples of humanitarianism are what will in the end lead to improved survival and quality of life for children with cancer. We have much work to do and I am genuinely grateful to be here and see the work that is being done.