Thrive by IU Health

March 08, 2024

Social worker’s heart for organ donation began with the loss of her sister

IU Health Methodist Hospital

Social worker’s heart for organ donation began with the loss of her sister

It’s been years since a tragic family loss and Trysha Miller calls upon that grief in her role as a social worker.

By TJ Banes, IU Health Senior Journalist,

Ask Trysha Miller why she chose a career in social work and she’ll tell you: “My faith and family informed that decision.”

She grew up in a household in Mishawaka, Ind. where it was routine to serve others and have open discussions about social justice. Her career choice seemed like a natural fit. Twelve years ago she joined IU Health’s transplant team and her profession became a passion.

“My sister was killed in a car accident when she was 20 and we weren’t able to donate her organs. I often wonder if organ donation would have relieved the grief a bit, just knowing her life made a difference for others,” said Miller, who heads up a team of nine social workers.

During March - “Social Worker Month” we recognize the talents of all of our IU Health social workers. Those serving transplant patients at IU Health Riley Hospital for Children, University and Methodist Hospitals include Miller, Katie Butler, Beth Canfield, and Joshua Sumner.

“There are so many things I like about my role with transplant and one of the biggest ones is the team mindset, not only among the social workers but among the interdisciplinary teams,” said Miller.

Patients preparing for transplant work with a team that includes specialized doctors, surgeons, pharmacists, nurse coordinators, dietitians, social workers, and financial navigators.

Miller relates one situation where she helped a middle-aged patient with developmental disabilities navigate care after transplant. One of the most important aspects of transplant is that patients have adequate support during their recovery. On other occasions, when English is not a patient’s first language, Miller has stepped in and helped them communicate their insurance needs so they could continue to maintain medications.

“The biggest thing social workers do is identify barriers to transplant,” said Miller. Those barriers might include lack of transportation or housing close to the hospital, or other resources such as a loss of income during recovery.

“We do a lot of education, before, during and after transplant,” said Miller. “We want to do everything we can to make sure that a patient’s transplant is clearly something that changes their lives and the lives of their family forever.”

Miller is married to Rob Miller, a pastor with Northview Church of the Brethren. They have two sons, 18 and 22. In her spare time she enjoys playing piano for her church, taking long walks, and spending time with her family. She has an older sister who is also a social worker in South Bend.



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