April 2021 • Volume 15, No. 4

From the Editor

April is, among other things, National Donate Life Month—a time to celebrate the generosity of those who have saved lives by becoming organ, eye, tissue, marrow, and blood donors, and to encourage others to do the same.

In past issues of this newsletter, we’ve focused on particular kinds of transplants, like liver transplants and corneal transplants. This time we look at organ transplants and organ/blood donation in a more general way, with an eye toward how they have been affected during the pandemic.

In NIFA news, we feature an accomplishment by Ben Parsons, son of NIFA’s SutureStar Workshop Division Director Dean Parsons. And our Graduate in the Spotlight is Sui-Choo Lee, RN, BSN, CNOR, of Atlanta, GA.

Scroll down for jobs we’ve collected for you and NIFA’s favorite links.


Julie Lancaster, Editor

NIFA News: Big Win for Staff Son

Ben Parsons and his team, the Omaha Junior Lancers, won the U.S.A. Hockey National Championships on April 19. Ben is the son of NIFA’s SutureStar program director Dean Parsons.

Ben tore his ACL pre-season last year as a freshman and had to have surgery, Dean says. As captain of last year’s junior varsity team, he had to watch from the bench while rehabbing. This year he was voted captain again of the junior varsity team and occasionally played for the varsity team as well. At the end of the regular season, Ben was asked to be the captain of the varsity team next year. And when the varsity team made the playoffs this year after the regular season, Ben was asked to join the team to help try to win the national title.

“Early in Ben’s hockey career he was told by a couple of coaches he wasn’t good enough to make the top teams,” says Dean. “He took it upon himself to get better. One of my proudest moments in his life was when a very prominent coach in our area approached me—I didn’t even know who he was at the time—and said, ‘Your son is a great hockey player, but he is an even better human being. Ben cares about everyone.’”

Congratulations, Ben!

Photo: Jeannie (Ben’s mom) and Ben Parsons. Courtesy Dean Parsons.

COVID Disease Damage Leading to ‘Completely New Category’ of Organ Transplants

“Covid-19-related transplants are surging as hospitals grapple with a growing subset of patients whose organs—most often hearts and lungs—are basically destroyed by the virus,” writes JoNel Aleccia on Kaiser Health News.

Aleccia examines the transplant landscape and the very different profile of some of the current candidates for transplants, who were young and healthy before COVID damaged their hearts or lungs, as compared to candidates doctors are accustomed to seeing for transplants. Read more…

‘COVID-to-COVID’ Double Lung Transplant Performed

Surgeons at Northwestern Medicine in Chicago “successfully transplanted both lungs from a COVID-19 survivor into a man whose own lungs had been irreversibly ravaged by the disease,” according to John Gever of MedPage Today. The procedure was performed in February and its success announced in mid-March.

As the first double-lung procedure to involve a donor known to have previously had COVID-19, the success of this procedure has broader implications, Gever writes.

“‘To date, 30 million Americans have had COVID-19 and many of them are registered organ donors,’ said Ankit Bharat, MD, chief of thoracic surgery and surgical director for Northwestern’s lung transplant program, in a press release. ‘If we say ‘no’ to them just because they had COVID-19 in the past, we will drastically reduce the donor pool and there’s already a big supply and demand gap. We will have a massive problem on our hands if Americans can’t donate their organs after having a mild to moderate case of COVID-19.’” Read more…

Groundbreaking Trachea Transplant Surgery

Earlier this month, a medical team at Sinai Hospital in New York City announced that is has performed the first complete surgical transplant of a windpipe.

“The trachea is basically a tube that transports air to and from the lungs, so you might think it would be easy to transplant,” writes Richard Harris of NPR’s Morning Edition. “But not so. In fact, trachea transplants have been one of the last big challenges in this area of medicine.”

In this case, the patient’s persistence was part of the story resulting in the transplant. Read more…

Push is on for States to Ban Organ Transplant Discrimination

Sara Reardon of Kaiser Health News reports on a Montana mother whose 7-year-old son, Griffin, has Down syndrome. She campaigned to bring the matter to the attention of the state legislature, resulting in a bill nicknamed “Griffin’s Law,” which passed the Montana Senate 50-0.

“Denying organ transplants to people with intellectual and neurodevelopmental disabilities like Down syndrome or autism is common in the United States, even though it is illegal under the Americans with Disabilities Act,” writes Reardon.
“If the bill passes the state House and is signed by the governor, Montana would become the 17th state to ban such discrimination. Seven other states and the federal government have similar bills pending, although some experts doubt such laws will be enforceable enough to eliminate discrimination.”

Reardon goes on to explore some of the ethical difficulties surrounding decision-making about organ transplants. Read more…

Scots Become Automatic Organ Donors under New Law

“Everyone in Scotland is now an automatic organ donor—unless they opt out of a new system,” writes Joanne Macaulay of BBC Scotland. Beginning on March 26, “it is presumed that people have consented to donation unless they have stated otherwise. . . . In two years, a similar system in Wales has increased family consent by 50%.” Read more…

Video: Can You Donate Blood after a COVID-19 Vaccination?

Check out this informative (albeit wobbly) one-minute video by the American Red Cross answering some frequently asked questions about blood donation after COVID-19 vaccination. Watch here…

There continues to be a critical need for blood, especially because many drives have been cancelled due to COVID-19 restrictions.

Click here to learn where to donate blood and plasma near you.

Student Spotlight: Sui-Choo Lee


Student Status
Graduated this month from NIFA’s RNFA program!

City & State
Atlanta, GA

Current Position
CVOR Clinical RN III

Where did you get your RN degree? 
Grand Canyon University

How did you come to choose perioperative nursing?
I enjoy the perioperative life. It is a field full of action, fun, sweat and satisfaction in the world of perioperative nursing.

What is a scary thing about the OR table?
Stray needles lying around, blades pointing to me. I like all the compliments from my surgeon.

What is one technique or RNFA trick you’ve learned from NIFA that you will use for life?
The loop lock, surgeon throw, figure-of-eight and the subcuticular stitch from Instructor John Russel.

How do you feel having your RNFA will impact your life/career?
Building my confidence in every bit of my placing those stitches/ties.

Jobs Front

Click here for the RNFA job postings we’ve collected for you this month.

NIFA – Office Hours

Monday-Thursday, 8:00am – 5:00pm
Friday, 8:00am – 4:00pm

Practice Resources

Here are several of the most-in-demand sites for our students, prospective students and grads:

MD Edge Surgery News: Specialty News and Commentaries, Videos and More
RNFA Scope of Practice by State (PDF)
ACS List of Cases that Require an Assistant at Surgery, 2020 (PDF)
Perioperative Nurse Links (state nursing boards & professional associations)
APRN Nurse Links

Disclaimer: The views expressed in this newsletter are strictly those of their respective authors and do not necessarily represent the views of NIFA. NIFA does not give any express or implied warranty as to the accuracy of statements made by our contributors and does not accept any liability for error or omission. It is the responsibility of all perioperative personnel to work within and adhere to their facility bylaws and individual scope of practice.

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