Jul 4, 2010 3:30 PM by Chris Welty
ALEXANDRIA, La. (AP) - Brett Fuqua died nearly two years ago.
But in some ways he lives on, and not just in the hearts of friends
Fuqua's was one of 12 pictures unveiled last Monday at the
dedication of the "Wall of Life" at Christus St. Frances Cabrini
Hospital. The memorial honors organ donors.
"It's a fantastic feeling to think many people are walking
around healthy because of my brother," said Tony Fuqua.
The wall grew out of a yearlong initiative by the Louisiana
Hospital Association to increase organ donations. The program was
very successful, adding more than 200,000 people to the donation
rolls, which got Cabrini administrators thinking what they could do
to bolster the organ donation rate of their patients.
"What can you do to keep reminding people about this gift of
life?" said Stephen Wright, chief executive officer of Christus
Louisiana. "We wanted to do something to ensure we could keep
encouraging people year after year, not for just one year."
They found inspiration in a hospital in El Paso, Texas, which
saw its donation rates skyrocket after a similar memorial.
The hope is that the Wall of Life will encourage other people to
register as organ donors and other families to consent to organ
donations when their loved ones pass. Wright said he hoped to
increase Cabrini's organ donation rate from its current level of
about 50 percent of the families they approach for consent to about
"In Louisiana, a lot of people don't know a lot about organ
donation," said Billy McRae, manager in nursing administration at
Cabrini, whose nephew was diagnosed with terminal liver disease at
6 months old and was "days, if not hours, from it being the end
for him" when his life was saved by a transplant.
"There are a lot of myths. What we have to do is educate people
about that. I think once they see the wall, how professionally it's
done, I think we'll see some more pictures up there."
"I understand the tremendous sense of fulfillment from knowing
you have given life to someone else," said Dr. Juan Sullivan, an
intensivist in the intensive care unit at Cabrini who once donated
one of his kidneys to save his ailing father's life. "Your loved
ones live on in the people who have received their organs."
That's how Brett Fuqua's family feels. He died nearly two years
ago in a tractor accident on his property in Ferriday. Twenty-six
organs and tissues were salvaged from his body.
"It's encouraging," said Brett's mother, Barbara Fuqua. "I
don't know of anything that dulls the pain but time. But seeing his
picture on the wall, this memorial, that helps."