Mercer Island senior wins opportunity to see transplant surgery at Swedish Medical

High school students, from left, Miranda Melling and Rosemary Leach, of Mercer Island, with Dr. Phillip Chapman, of Swedish Medical Center, and Taylor King, far right, after leaving the operating room. - Contributed photo
High school students, from left, Miranda Melling and Rosemary Leach, of Mercer Island, with Dr. Phillip Chapman, of Swedish Medical Center, and Taylor King, far right, after leaving the operating room.
— image credit: Contributed photo

Rosemary Leach, a senior at Mercer Island High School, donned a surgical mask and gloves. She was getting prepared to enter an operating room at Swedish Medical Center, where she would witness transplant surgeons and staff at work.

Leach was chosen as a winner in the Job Shadow essay contest sponsored by Swedish Medical Center and LifeCenter Northwest. With two other area high school students, Leach was able to see firsthand a team of professionals at their lifesaving work of organ transplantation.

Leach’s day included meeting the transplant team for rounds on the transplant floor and observing Dr. Phillip Chapman perform living kidney donor surgery.

“Being in the operating room while someone was getting their kidney removed to donate to someone who needed it was fascinating and exciting,” Leach said. “I was surprised when I looked at the clock after what I thought was only a few minutes to see that almost two hours had gone by.”

Later that day, the students observed patients in the Transplant Patient Clinic. Here they saw transplant nurse coordinators, social workers and financial coordinators in their respective roles helping patients who were waiting for transplants and those who were returning for a follow-up after having received their transplants.

Lunch with their mentors-for-the-day allowed a lively exchange of information which gave the students greater insights into the many jobs that they, themselves, might consider for their career. Leach reports that one of the nurses talked about how she used to be shy and that being in a hospital setting helped her get over her shyness. This information was inspiring to Leach because she now believes she can achieve her dream of becoming a nurse even though she considers herself a shy person, too.

This is the fourth year that LifeCenter Northwest has offered the job shadow day. “We think that accompanying the surgeons and their teams, as they care for their patients and perform lifesaving operations, provides a unique ‘life lesson,’” explained Molly Schoeb, LifeCenter Northwest’s education program manager.

The job shadow day is one of a number of activities taking place during National Donate Life Month. Throughout April, people nationwide are encouraged to learn more about organ, eye and tissue donation and register to become donors. A person can register to become an organ donor when renewing his driver’s license, or she can register immediately at

Donate Life Today is the organ, eye and tissue donor registry for Montana and Washington. It is a confidential database of donation registrations to be carried out at the time of death and accessed only by donation professionals. 

LifeCenter Northwest manages the registry and is one of the 58 federally designated, nonprofit organ procurement organizations (OPO) in the United States. 

By educating the community about the need and the importance for people to register to become a donor, LifeCenter Northwest hopes to help more than 100,000 people waiting for a transplant. 

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