Desin had devoted 39 years of her life to saving others – and by donating her organs, her final act was to save even more.
One of her colleagues posted the photo of the hospital along with this message to Facebook:
“We turned them on yesterday to honor one of our beloved nurses, who sadly passed unexpectedly in our presence. She donated her organs to continue to help save lives, even in her passing. We had a walk for her, hallways lined with more people than I could have counted to see her off. From now on, those lights will not only be turned on when someone RECEIVES an organ, but also when someone donates, as well. It was a very emotional day yesterday, and Mary, we will never forget you or the impact you made throughout your career!”
After the post went viral, the family joined ABC’s Good Morning America to talk about the sweet tribute in which more than 100 hospital employees filled the halls to honor Desin and her family as her body was wheeled to the operating room where her liver and kidneys were donated.
Desin’s son Matthew James told GMA that it was a very emotional moment and one that touched the family deeply:
“It was extremely emotional. Most everybody was crying. People I didn’t even know came up to me during the time and said how much they loved her and she helped them get further in their career.”
And no one could have expected so many people to show up – but it just goes to show how big an impact people like Desin have on those around them, sometimes without even knowing it.
“I expected maybe 20 people from her times as an OR nurse and her current position to be there,” James said. “I didn’t expect over 100 people to be impacted by her loss.”
Desin’s friend Donny McDowell, who is also a UPMC staff nurse, told GMA that her bravery and selflessness were par for the course, right up until the end:
“What Mary was doing was very brave. [It was incredible] to see the lives that would be changed because of Mary’s gift. The thing about Mary that I learned the most is that you always give and you keep on giving a little bit more.”
And tributes poured in on posts about her story – many from former mentees who she taught throughout her time as a nurse educator.
In her obituary, her family paid tribute to her love of both animals and people:
“She was an animal lover, especially of dogs. Mary was generous to a fault, always helping anyone that crossed her path. She loved that her job as a nurse allowed her to help anyone and everyone she could.”
While her husband passed away 4 years ago, she is survived by three children and four grandchildren – and, of course, the people she saved by donating her organs.
If you’d like to learn more about organ donation or sign up to become a donor, click here.
And be sure to scroll down below to see footage from Desin’s moving “honor march.”
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