Something amazing happened today. I went to the Donor Network West headquarters in San Ramon and met everyone!
At 3PM, I went up to meet with Cathy. I met Cathy Koubek at my cookbook release, and she’s basically the marketing person of Donor Network West.
She gave me a tour of the entire office. It was so exciting. This is where they matched my donor to me.
She gave me a rundown of where everyone was: marketing, research, volunteer services, donor help, and the kitchen.
The coolest part I think is the command center. I’m calling it the command center because it’s similar to a command center.
In the command center, organs are matched to their recipients. When a potential donor dies, nearby hospitals call the command center. If the potential donor is registered to be a donor, they’re added onto the database. If the potential donor is not registered to be an organ donor, a representative is sent to the hospital to talk to the family.
Once on the database, they match up the organs available to the best suited recipient. The recipient is then called by the hospital, and the organ is transported.
The command center is completely cut off from the rest of the office. They have their own separate AC, kitchen, and power supply (in case of an outage).
I met a lot of people. Beverley Mayer works with Cathy in marketing, and that’s where they try to spread awareness. Noel Sanchez works in marketing, along with Mike Fresie. So nice to meet them all!
Today I had my first official Donor Network West ambassador training.
It’s been long overdue. We put it off for such a long time, and I think since June? Ever since the cookbook release, Cathy has been asking me to be an ambassador. An ambassador, according to Meghan, is just a fancy term for a volunteer (June 30, 2018).
It was quite upsetting I had to wake up early on a Saturday instead of sleeping in, but it’s alright.
I’m so proud of myself. I already knew a majority of what Anyanna said because I’ve been so involved with Donor Network West.
Since only two people signed up, it was a webinar instead of a face-to-face meet and greet, but that’s fine. When the actual webinar started, there were actually more than two people. Cool!
I’m excited to be an ambassador. Now I have an official title! 🙌 I can put “Donor Network West Ambassador” on my business cards (I’m thinking of getting them).
I dropped off some flyers of the Donor Network West walk at Mr. Lewin’s class after school. I said if he wants to, my mom would love to run the 5k/10k with him. I’m just going to walk.
Mr. Lewin told me he had a high school classmate who was now a news reporter, and she was interested in doing a story about me. Hmmm. Awesome!
Woohoo, I won! Donate Life America held a contest called the National Minority Donor Awareness Month Healthy Living Recipe Contest. Lalaine To from Donor Network West referred me to it. I decided, why not? Asian Americans consent to organ donation at a considerably low rate (considered to other ethnicities), and the main reason is a lack of representation. If I can help out any way, I’d gladly do it.
I submitted a picture, my story, and the Heart-Healthy Chow Mein recipe from my cookbook. I guess they liked my recipe and story enough to pick me. I’ll be featured in the 2021 Donate Life “A Year of Healthy Living” Calendar. It’s still under development, but I’m super excited to see it!
The calendars came and they’re so cool! I decided to take a few pictures even though I had my skin cream on (but then again when do I take good pictures). I’m excited to try out the other recipes, like the smoked tropical salsa or transplant friendly beef ceviche.
Caption: Growing up, I watched my grandma make chow mein in the kitchen. As an Asian American, food is an integral part of our culture; we communicate over food, bond over food and laugh over food. After my heart transplant, everything around me seemed so unhealthy. Foods were either covered with oil, saturated with salt or included MSG. My Heart Healthy Chow Mein tries to use as little soy sauce and oil as possible, while including more vegetables and protein. Even though it is not traditionally cooked, it still tastes just as good!
Oh my gosh, I am beyond excited to announce that I’ll be starting a Research Internship at Donor Network West!! As a research intern, I’ll be tagging along the senior scientist for procurement, directly at the other side of organ donation. I know it’s going to be challenging, but I feel it’s also necessary. Sometimes I feel I’m not producing any results, so being able to actually contribute to the process is –> mind blown! I can’t wait to be on the other side of transplantation and bring this with me to my personal understanding of transplantation. I also believe this is my first step into a lifelong career of nonprofits, public health, and organ donation.