Thrive by IU Health

October 06, 2021

A heart of gold: Transplant coordinator found her calling

A heart of gold: Transplant coordinator found her calling

Diana Reed followed her own heart into the transplant field. “This was the career I was meant to be in.”

By Maureen Gilmer, IU Health senior journalist, mgilmer1@iuhealth.org

Diana Reed’s heart has always been in the right place.

She is not one for the spotlight, but her colleagues on the heart transplant team at IU Health Methodist Hospital want to be sure she gets her time to shine.

Reed is retiring Friday after 35-plus years in healthcare, most of them with either Methodist or University hospitals. For the past two decades, she has served as a heart transplant coordinator, a role that has provided her with immense satisfaction.

“This was the career I was meant to be in,” she said. “I have no regrets at all. I just absolutely have loved it.”

She started out her career at University Hospital before it was part of the IU Health system. She worked as an intensive care nurse in the renal ICU.

“We called it the MASH unit because it was high-intense, critical care,” she said. “But I loved it. The people I worked with were fantastic, and we worked hard.”

After 10 years, she moved with her husband to New Jersey, but the couple returned two years later. Reed went back to University, this time taking a job in the cardiac cath lab.

When the transplant programs at Methodist and University merged, she took a job as a transplant coordinator and moved over to Methodist, referred to by her colleagues as the “mothership.” She never looked back.

She worked with Dr. Jacqueline O’Donnell and Dr. John Brown for many years and made several visits to Riley Hospital for Children to meet with adult patients who suffered congenital heart problems.

“Even if they were older and needed to be in the hospital to be transplanted, they would be at Riley,” she said. “When we had the People Mover (an elevated train that connected all three Downtown IU Health hospitals), I’d hop on and go see them, make sure they were doing OK. I miss the People Mover.”

Now people at Methodist, University and Riley are going to miss Reed. Many of them turned out for her retirement party Tuesday, said Reed’s manager, Jill Gorman.

“We had lots of people stop by from surgery, clinic and units around the hospital,” Gorman said. “Goes to show how much of an impact she had on others.”

Gorman summarized comments from many of her colleagues in a note to Reed:

“She is a book of wealth, a woman of knowledge, a friend, a confidant, a secret keeper, reliable, responsible, flexible. She is someone we can count on 100% of the time, someone who cares more about everyone else than herself. Her patients rave about her, her co-workers can’t get enough of her. She is the epitome of a hard worker, an amazing coordinator and a compassionate nurse. We will miss her, but we are so happy she is going to have

time for her. She is one of a kind.”

She is also known for the outfit she wears every April to promote National Donate Life Blue & Green Day in honor of her patients and the donors and families who make transplants possible.

Working with patients has been the most rewarding part of her job, Reed said.

“Coaching them through obstacles before transplant, that’s been the part I really love. And the people I work with are fantastic.”

Reed has worked mostly on the pre-transplant side for the past several years, so when it comes time to hand off her patient to his or her post-transplant coordinator, she tries to get out of the way.

But she loves seeing them when they come in for clinic visits.

“It’s gratifying to see them doing well after all the work.”

When she reflects on her career now, Reed doesn’t think about the sleepless nights or the interrupted family dinners that she and all transplant coordinators accept as part of the job.

“You have to have a passion for this work,” she said. “It’s a mindset. This is what I’m committed to, and you have to balance your personal life with all of that. I think you get that more figured out as you get older.”

What she hasn’t figured out yet is what she will do in retirement.

“I haven’t gotten that far in making plans for the rest of my life. Whatever that is, it’s going to be fun.”

Photos submitted and by Mike Dickbernd, IU Health visual journalist, mdickbernd@iuhealth.org

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