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He had completed a three-year stint in the Army when Dominic Oakes’ mom suggested he work at a hospital transporting patients.
“I never realized how much I liked working with patients,” said Oakes. That was 18 years ago. Since then he went on to work as a surgery tech at Methodist Hospital and eventually got his foot in the door of profusion – a job that has taken him throughout the United States - all the way to Puerto Rico. His job is to assist in the safe recovery and transport of organs for transplant.
“When people ask me what I do there’s always a bunch of questions,” said Oakes who grew up on the south side, and wrestled and played football for Perry Meridian High School. “It’s not often people meet someone who does what I do. I usually tell them I’m the guy with the cooler and then it gives me a chance to talk about the importance of organ donation. I talk to them about how that gives people a new lease on life.”
On call a week and in the office a week, Oakes said the calls come in spurts and he’s off and running – at the procurement site, he assists with prepping for the surgery, and preparing the organs for transport.
“I’ve had a cart full of groceries and had to walk out and leave the store; I’ve left sporting events and I’ve got off planes after being up 14 hours and went straight to a kids’ game,” said Oakes. But over the years, he said changes and improvements in technology have made it easier to prepare in advance for some transports and transplant procedures.
“Most chances I get, I tell people about giving the gift of organ donation. We see people who come in and are so sick and then we see them after their transplant and their smile comes back. It’s the best aspect of the job.”
More about Oakes:
-- By T.J. Banes, Associate Senior Journalist at IU Health.
Reach Banes via email at T.J. Banes or on Twitter @tjbanes.