Sparrow Hospital nurse earns statewide donation champion award from Gift of Life Michigan

Melinda Herrera, Neuro ICU nurse at Sparrow Hospital, will receive Gift of Life's 2024 Nurse Champion Award

Malinda Herrera becomes a living donor to offer hope

Malinda Herrera has been a passionate advocate of organ and tissue donation for years as a nurse on the Neuro Intensive Care Unit at Sparrow Hospital.

Herrera is motivated because she knows that sometimes hope is born out of tragedy. Her work with Gift of Life Michigan’s teams over the years has helped Sparrow become one of the top donation hospitals statewide.

Last August, Herrera’s professional commitment turned into a personal act of kindness with her decision to donate part of her liver to someone in need.

For her extraordinary efforts to save lives and lend hope to others, Gift of Life, the state’s organ and tissue donation program, has chosen Herrera as Michigan’s 2024 Nurse Champion. The 24-year Sparrow veteran is one of more than 20 people and organizations that will be recognized in April for their outstanding efforts to promote organ and tissue donation in their communities or help make it happen in their hospitals.

Their work is considered lifesaving.

Herrera became a living donor through the transplant program at Michigan Medicine in Ann Arbor. The liver is the only organ capable of regenerating itself, which means it can be donated by a living person.

“It felt like such an amazing privilege to offer hope to another human,” Herrera said. “To be able to offer hope of renewed health to someone who has not been able to enjoy that is pretty incredible. It was, without a doubt, the right decision for me.”

As for her work with Sparrow Hospital patients and their families to give life to others, Herrera said organ donation saves lives and it is meaningful for families that experience loss to know something good came from it.

Gift of Life has been shining a light on its best community partners and hospital and transplant professionals since 2018. The organization needs advocates statewide to help it fulfill the decisions of donors and their families, said Dorrie Dils, president and CEO of Gift of Life.

“Without dedicated nurses like Malinda on critical care units across Michigan, donation would be impossible for patients and their families,” Dils said. “We’re thrilled to recognize the work she’s been doing for years at Sparrow Hospital. And the fact that she decided to become a living donor is incredibly altruistic. I’ve always said, living donors are absolute heroes. Thank you, Malinda.”

Living donation is carried out by Michigan’s eight transplant centers. Gift of Life is federally designated to facilitate donation from deceased donors.

Other winners across the state are:

  • Check Your Heart: Rachel Eubanks, State Treasurer and Jeff Guilfoyle, Chief Deputy Treasurer
  • Legislative Partner: Felicia Brabec, Pittsfield Township/Ann Arbor
  • Secretary of State: Laura Lehman, Lansing
  • Community Partner: John Stanifer and Molly Stanifer, Grand Rapids
  • Volunteer: Chris Kowalski, Grandville
  • Taking Initiative: Aarolyn McCullough, Oak Park
  • Multicultural Difference Maker: Alena Christian and Alisa Christian, Flint
  • Donation Storyteller: Sherry Johnson, Farmington Hills
  • Educator: Lyniece McNair-Levi, Grand Blanc
  • First Responder: Tim Matz, Rochester Hills Fire Department
  • Nurse: Malinda Herrera, Sparrow Hospital, Lansing
  • Physician: Dr. Adhnan Mohamed, Henry Ford Hospital, Detroit
  • Donation Liaison: Eric Jean, Munson Medical Center, Traverse City
  • Hospital Staff/Other: Denise Lindeman, Corewell Health Beaumont Troy Hospital
  • Hospital Executive Leader: Drs. Stephen Fitch and Charles Gibson, Corewell Health West, Grand Rapids
  • Innovation: Tim Frankel, Michigan Medicine, Ann Arbor
  • Medical Examiner: Drs. Stephen Cohle and David Start, Kent County Medical Examiner, Grand Rapids
  • Funeral Professional: Tom Buist, The Dodge Company, Grand Rapids
  • Transplant Center Professional: Krista Veine, Corewell Health West, Grand Rapids
  • Honoring Life Through Donation: Jill Soave, Oxford
  • Legacy: Patty Jo Herndon, Plymouth
  • Hospital of the Year: Munson Medical Center, Traverse City

For more information or to sign up as a donor, visit golm.org/register.

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