Donating an organ is a beautiful thing.

Deirdre McAdams knows all about it being a recipient herself as she had a cornea transplant in October of 1995 after working in the organ donation and transplantation field for many years prior, and still works in the field to this day.

McAdams is a Donation and Transplantation Consultant for Clinical Consulting Associates where she eculates the suitability of organs being offered for transplanting to transplant centers.

“I can happily do this job remotely from home, which has allowed me to continue to work safely throughout the pandemic,” she said.”

Her typical day is being notified via telephone whenever an organ is being offered to the transplant center she serves. From there, McAdams reviews the offer for a variety of factors. If the organ is a good match for the patient, she discusses particulars with the transplant surgeon to either accept or deny the offer.

“It is a complex process that can take a few days and requires the help of the entire healthcare team—every department of the hospital, really,” McAdams said.

The end result, if accepted, is a person with a new chance to be healthy and more grateful than someone could imagine.

She is a Morristown native, who has had her fair share of travels due to her career. She attended Carson-Newman College and East Tennessee Baptist Hospital School of Nursing in pursuit of her nursing career, graduating in 1984, before finding her way into the organ donation and transplantation field.

While McAdams was in her nursing career she mostly cared for post operative open heart surgery patients in the ICU at East Tennessee Baptist Hospital.

“Fortunately, the vast majority of them recovered quickly and went home,” McAdams said. “On rare occasions, we would have someone who didn’t go home. In those instances, I really struggled with how to deal with those losses.”

However, a career change helped McAdams with those struggles.

She was approached by a coordinator of Tennessee Donor Services while in her nursing career. She was asked to join TDS in their mission, and McAdams was intrigued by the opportunity, knowing she could do something to literally save the lives of people.

“Organ donation is just the most amazing thing,” McAdams said. “I’ve always said that if we ever achieve a technology that allows us to grow organs in the laboratory to meet the ever-growing need for transplants, I hope we will still allow people to be donors. This is because the act of donation is one of the most noble acts I have ever witnessed.”

And just like that, she found a long-lasting career in what she found beauty in—organ donations and transplantation.

McAdams explained organ donation as the kindest act from a stranger saying, “It renews my faith in the inherent goodness of mankind every single time it happens.”

Of course, she has dealt with donations and transplantations many, many times.

According to McAdams, there are more than 100,000 people waiting for an organ transplant in the United States right now. Around 3,000 of them are fellow Tennesseans.

“Sometimes, they die waiting at a rate of nearly one per hour because the organ that would have saved them was not donated in time. We have people in our community right now who are still walking among us because someone said ‘yes.’”

For those not aware, there is a Tennessee-born initiative that has become national called “Be the Gift,” which is a donation registration drive with the goal of increasing donor registration by 100,000 people by the end of the year, according to McAdams.

“We are the Volunteer State! We can do better,” she added as only about 40% of Tennesseans have registered.

The website for “Be the Gift” is BeTheGiftToday.com. Whenever registering, choose the state of Tennessee and it will direct you to the “Donate Life Tennessee” website. From there, registerees can select the GFWC option from the dropdown list under “The following influenced my decision to be a doner.”

The GFCW is an acronym for General Federation of Women’s Clubs. As a member of the Morristown Ladies’ Reading Circle, which is a part of the GFCW, McAdams highly recommends completing the process mentioned to donate. Doing so will not only help McAdams but potentially save a stranger’s life.

As far as health and age goes, McAdams said not to worry about whether you can donate or not. Just decide if helping others after you die is consistent with your values and wishes. If so, register to donate and let professionals determine the extent of your gifts.I hope we will still allow people to be donors. This is because the act of donation is one of the most noble acts I have ever witnessed.”