Dr. Jeffrey Wilt honored as Donation Champion for support of organ, tissue donation
Dr. Jeffrey Wilt, medical director of critical care at Ascension Borgess Hospital in Kalamazoo, was one of 13 individuals and three organizations honored by Gift of Life Michigan with a 2021 Donation Champion Award. The awards recognize people and organizations that make extraordinary efforts to help fulfill the wishes of donors and their families and promote the Michigan Organ Donor Registry.
“Gift of Life Michigan is so fortunate to have so many dedicated partners assist us with our mission of honoring life through donation,” said Dorrie Dils, CEO of Gift of Life Michigan. “Every year there are so many worthy nominees. These champions represent the best of the best, but it is a difficult decision every year.”
Dr. Wilt, who has worked at the Kalamazoo hospital since 2007, was recognized for his role in support of the annual recognition ceremony that takes place at Ascension Borgess, the Donor Memorial Wall that was installed last year, the many lectures and in-services he participates in, and more. He said he supports organ and tissue donation because it allows families to provide a legacy of kindness and healing.
“When families make the decision to donate, in the long run they’re going to feel better about losing their loved one than if they don’t,” he said. “I’ve heard from many families who said it’s the only positive thing that has come from their personal tragedies. They are proud that they helped save someone else’s life.”
Dr. Wilt added that he looked at the award as more of a staff recognition, because the entire team at Ascension Borgess is supportive of organ and tissue donation. The donor wall and annual donor recognition ceremony are embraced by staff and leadership at the hospital, too.
“These initiatives are supported by the wonderful staff and leadership at Borgess,” he said.
Other winners include:
- Secretary of State Employee: Maríaelena Hernandez, Secretary of State Branch Office, SW Detroit
- Volunteer: Scott Campbell, West Michigan
- Community Partner: Key2Finesse, Metro Detroit
- Multicultural Difference Maker: Brandon Corder, Beats X Beers, Flint
- First Responder: Huron Valley Ambulance
- Donation Storyteller: Ingrid Kelley, FOX 2 Detroit
- Medical Examiner: Dr. Carl Schmidt, Medical Examiner, Wayne County
- Certified Physician Assistant: Blair Cotton, Spectrum Health
- Nurse: Tonia Cole, McLaren Flint Hospital, Flint
- Donation Liaison: Valerie Canary, Hurley Medical Center, Flint
- Funeral Professional: Harry J. Will Funeral Homes, Metro Detroit
- Transplant Center Professional: Dr. Damanpreet Bedi, Beaumont Royal Oak
- Hospital Executive Leader: Lisa Friedman, St. Joseph Mercy Ann Arbor
- Honoring Life Through Donation Award: John Edmond, Lansing
- Donor Hospital of the Year: Spectrum Butterworth, Grand Rapids
- Legacy Award: Cathy Warren, Donate Life Coalition
This is the third year Gift of Life has recognized Donation Champions throughout the state. Last year, due to the Covid-19 pandemic, the awards were handed out individually and winners celebrated via social media and other digital channels.