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Kalamazoo physician honored as Donation Champion by Gift of Life Michigan

Monday, October 26, 2020

Kalamazoo, MI – Dr. Robert Beck has helped save and improve the lives of thousands of people he’ll never meet.Dr. Robert Beck was honored by Gift of Life Michigan for his life-saving work.

Beck, 64, of Kalamazoo, is one of 15 individuals and three hospitals statewide to be honored with a 2020 Donation Champion Award from Gift of Life Michigan. Dr. Beck earned this year’s Physician Champion Award for his dedication to helping patients and their families save lives by working closely with Gift of Life.

“On a personal level, I think it’s part of that patient-physician relationship and it provides closure for families,” said Dr. Beck, a pediatric critical care physician based at Bronson Methodist Hospital in Kalamazoo.

When he completed his training in 1990 in Memphis, Tennessee, working with Organ Procurement Organizations like Gift of Life was an afterthought. The process has evolved since then, and Dr. Beck has become a passionate advocate for organ and tissue donation.  

For years, Dr. Beck has tirelessly helped parents navigate tragedy in West Michigan. For him, an essential component is making sure they are offered the light of donation in the darkness of their grief. He extends his passion by teaching colleagues, residents and medical students about the donation process and why it’s critical to saving lives.

“It’s an altruistic issue,” he said. “In my own mind, for myself, I would hope that when I’m dead if someone can gain functional, contributing life because of me, it’s the right thing to do.”

Many families choose donation and when they do, he walks beside them through the process and does everything within his power to maximize their child’s donation by collaborating with Gift of Life Michigan.

One donation coordinator at Gift of Life sums up Dr. Beck’s work this way: “He’s passionate about his patients and saving their lives; he is equally passionate about saving another child’s life through donation if his patient cannot be saved.”

Beck and other winners will be honored in November by Gift of Life Michigan in a virtual format using social media, including Facebook. Other winners include:

  • Volunteer: Lydia and Ward Kimball, West Branch 
  • Community Partner: Wayne State University, Detroit 
  • Donation Storyteller: WLNS, Ch. 6 TVLansing 
  • Hospital Executive Leader: Dr. Harry Anderson, St. Joseph Hospital – Ann Arbor
  • Hospital Educator: Wendy Lavin, Sinai Grace Hospital, Detroit
  • Hospital Spiritual Care: Cindi VerHeer DeYoung, Spectrum Butterworth, Grand Rapids 
  • Medical Examiner: Dr. Joyce deJong, Medical Examiner
  • Honoring Life Through Donation Award: Chad Milton, Grand Rapids
  • Nurse: Elise Pavlic, Henry Ford Hospital, Detroit 
  • Secretary of State Employee: Kelly Davis, Shepherd, MI 
  • Donation Liaison: Kathi St. PierreNorthern Michigan Hospital, Petoskey
  • Funeral Professional: Rita Jordan, O.H. Pye, Detroit
  • Transplant Center Professional: Jennifer FogartyBeaumont Royal Oak
  • Multicultural Difference Maker: Terra DeFoe 
  • Innovation Award: Phil Douma, Michigan Funeral Directors Association, Okemos
  • Donor Hospital of the Year: Hurley Medical Center, Flint 
  • Legacy Award: Dr. Theresa Jacobs, Michigan Medicine, Ann Arbor