Transplant Coordinator Finds True Calling

January 17, 2019
Megan Rodriguez

Megan Rodriguez, Coordinator for Pediatric Heart Transplants at Joe DiMaggio Children’s Hospital, thrives in a high-octane environment.

She worked eight years at JoeD’s Emergency Department before transitioning to her current position, which is just as intense and challenging as any ER scenario. Two months in, she’s happily navigating a well-trod learning curve.

“I’m very thankful and privileged to be in this position,” says the Florida native. “I can’t wait to see how I make this my own and grow. It’s a lot to learn, but I’m excited about it. I know it’s going to be a great fit.”

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While working on her master’s degree at Florida International University, Megan learned a little about what transplant coordinators do during a clinical rotation with JoeD’s heart transplant team. That’s when she realized she might be due for a career change.

“You never know what you’re missing until you see it. I never knew what work went into the coordinator role. I was pretty impressed when I rotated with Megan (Zakrzewski) and Robert (Winchester), just to see what the job entails, and I loved it,” Megan says.

She finds the process of transferring a heart into another human being to be both challenging and immensely rewarding. The urgency of finding and securing an organ match fuels her need for speed.

The aftermath, too, brings its own rewards – a heart beats on, a child lives, a family rejoices.

Recently, Megan witnessed the hospital’s 50th transplantation. She’s proud to have been privy to the milestone, but also grateful to have facilitated another child’s survival.

“It solidifies that this is a well-established program. Our success rates for transplant are 100% at 1 and 3 years post transplant,” she says. “The program is special. Those are our babies.”

Megan has two “babies” of her own: a girl, 9, and a boy, 18. The whole family enjoys spending time at the beach, on the ocean and camping. Time outdoors reenergizes and readies her to continue fighting for the lives of JoeD’s tiny wards.

“I’ve always loved our mission. We are always striving to do more for the patients. I like that. I’ve always loved Joe DiMaggio. It feels like home. My family that I’ve grown to love is here, and I get to see all of their faces every day,” Megan says.