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Organ donation profoundly impacts CMH nurses

April is National Donate Life Month to raise awareness about organ donation and encourage Americans to register as organ, eye and tissue donors. Additionally, the event honors those who have saved lives through the gift of donation.

Consider these stats from Mid-America Transplant:

Every 9 minutes, another person is added to the waiting list

Each day, 17 people die while waiting for a transplant

More than 75 lives can be saved and healed by one donor

An organ donor recipient and her daughter, both nurses at Citizens Memorial, share the profound impact of organ donation on their lives.

Shawna Miller, RN, has devoted her life to providing life-saving care as a nurse. She continues to save lives because of an organ donor who gave her new life with a liver transplant 5 ½ years ago.

Miller has worked as a nurse for 34 years, 14 in the intensive care unit and 16 in the emergency room and the last four years at the CMH Infusion Center. Receiving a liver transplant gave Miller a new perspective on life and her profession.

“God has given me this second chance,” Miller said. “I always felt like I was a good nurse, but I wanted to be a great nurse. I wanted to nurse from empathy and not from sympathy.”

Doctors diagnosed Miller with primary biliary cirrhosis almost 20 years ago. While treatment slowed the disease’s progression, doctors said she eventually would need a liver transplant. In late 2016, she began the process of being put on a transplant list. After completing an extensive testing process to ensure she was a good candidate for a transplant, she was placed on the list in May 2017. She received a donation just 2 ½ weeks later — far sooner than she expected.

“That was a miracle that it all happened that way,” she said.

Her daughter, Jamie Jones, RN, is a nurse in CMH’s Intensive Care Unit, where Miller once worked as the director for four years. Through her work in the ICU, Jones offers patients a unique perspective from her personal connection to organ donation.

“I always encourage patients to consider organ and tissue donation,” she said.” I have even shared my mom’s story a few times. If you could save someone’s life, why wouldn’t you want to give it?

“My mother would not be here today if it was not for organ donation. It was such an amazing gift. There are so many people who have so much life left to live. I have loved watching her live life and seeing all she has gotten to experience because of organ donation. When you choose to donate, you are literally giving the gift of life.

More than 75 lives can be saved and healed by one donor, according to Mid-America Transplant, while 17 people die each day while waiting for a transplant.

“It changes more than just the life of the recipient,” Miller said. “It changes the family and the community. It’s the largest gift that anyone can make.”

Before her transplant, Miller had two grandsons. Now, she has three grandsons and five granddaughters.

“I would have never met them,” she said. “I feel blessed every single day.”

April is Donate Life Month. Learn more about organ and tissue donation and register as a donor at

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