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‘Simply, it saves lives’

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Spectrum Critical Care Unit P.A. honored for support of organ, tissue donation

Blair Cotton, a Physician Assistant in the Neurological Critical Care Unit at Spectrum Butterworth Hospital in Grand Rapids, 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. Blair Cotton was honored by Gift of Life Michigan for his support and advocacy for organ and tissue donation.

“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.”

Cotton, who has worked in the Neurological Critical Care Unit for about seven years, was recognized for his behind the scenes role in making sure organ and tissue donation cases run as smoothly as possible. He’s been known to stay at a patient’s bedside for hours after donation has been authorized, working compassionately with donor families and more.

“I feel that donation is important and would encourage others to donate because it simply saves lives,” he said. “In my experience I have seen that a family is able to find encouragement in a dark time because their loss means someone else has a second chance at life. They see it as a way for their loved one to leave a legacy.”

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

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.

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