Some prayed. Others put a hand over their heart out of respect.
The family of Mr. Sigler decided to take him off life support so his final wish, which was to save the lives of others through organ donation, could be fulfilled.
His parents, Charles Christan Sigler and Courtney Kaplan, chose to have an Honor Walk because they knew how important organ donation was to their son and hoped it would increase organ donation in a state that currently has 615 Nevadans waiting for the gift of life.
According to Cohen, “we only put out a few messages to staff inviting them to join us for the Honor Walk, and staff came in early, stayed after their shift, and even came in on their day off. It was important to them to salute this patient’s and family’s decision to give the ultimate gift.”
Several UNLV medical students were at UMC as part of their studies, which include doing rounds with physicians.
Second year student Diane Han found the Honor Walk particularly meaningful.
“It was a beautiful way to honor the donor and their family. It was an intimate way for all the healthcare workers who were taking care of the patient and even the recipient’s family to appreciate the silver lining in such a grave and tragic circumstance. Often times, physicians and other healthcare workers are so busy...that they forget to take a step back and absorb all the emotions and vulnerability that comes with dealing with life and death."
Medical student Lauren Hollifield, who saw the donor just as he and his family approached the operating room, said she “felt overwhelmed with emotions, a unique juxtaposition between the feeling of profound sadness for the donor and the feeling of gratitude for (what he was giving) the recipients.”
Ms. Hollifield, while understanding that not all families would wish to have such a public display, said the Honor Walk should be offered to families of all organ donors.
“It allows the family and donor to be acknowledged for their generous act, as well as hopefully provide comfort to the family knowing that the donation will greatly benefit others.”
Medical student William Gravley stresses that the idea of having an Honor Walk for an organ donors “must be handled on a case by case basis depending on the wishes and emotional state of the bereaved.”
Ms. Cohen says the idea of an Honor Walk is handled with sensitivity at UMC. “We spent a lot of time talking with the family to ensure we were carrying out their wishes. They asked us to video the walk because it was important to them to spread the word about organ donation.”
Mr. Gravley believes an Honor Walk can help increase organ donation.
“Certainly, efforts such as the Honor Walk help to display how people are, in fact, donating organs, that the practice is not taboo, and that they can change lives even in death.“
Medical student Allison Aldrich truly hopes an Honor Walk helps families. “I hope it gives them at least a little comfort when seeing the enormous appreciation people have for what their loved one has chosen to do -- and experiencing the support of so many people.“
That so many people are now talking about organ donation in the wake of the tribute to Mr. Sigler has made medical student Ma appreciate the young donor even more.
“I hope wherever that young man is, he knows what a difference he made in people’s lives that day.”