Valerie Canary, a Pediatric Trauma Program Manager at the Hurley Medical Center in Flint, is one of 13 individuals and three organizations honored recently by Gift of Life Michigan with a 2021 Donation Champion Award. The awards recognize people and organizations who 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.”
Canary, who took on the additional role of donation liaison about eight years ago, was recognized for her behind the scenes role in making sure organ and tissue donation cases run as smoothly as possible, conducting in-services about organ and tissue donation, helping Gift of Life Michigan at community events, and more.
“I like the idea that something good can come from something that’s heart-breaking for someone else. Someone else gets a second chance to live. I think that’s pretty special,” she said. “I think it gives families a little bit of hope that something good is coming out of their tragedy.”
She also encourages people to sign up on the Michigan Organ Donor Registry because of the good it can do. A single donor can save up to five lives and heal as many as 75 more through donated tissue.
“You may save someone’s mom, someone’s kid, someone’s husband, someone’s sibling,” she said. “If it was your family member who was waiting for a transplant, you would want everyone to be on the registry to improve their chance of getting that life-saving gift. I would say, without hesitation, do it. “
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
- Physician: Dr. Jeffrey Wilt, Ascension Michigan Borgess Hospital, Kalamazoo
- 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