“They called us the Rescue Rangers”

Roy Mayfield and Brett Kesserling with text: “They called us the Rescue Rangers”

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“They called us the Rescue Rangers”

Roy Mayfield and Brett Kesserling can easily recall the special families and extraordinary circumstances they’ve encountered during their long careers in the field of organ and tissue donation. Both started their careers at Gift of Hope more than two decades ago as organ and tissue surgical coordinators, and they say they’ve attained a special type of emotional fulfillment from the relationships and outcomes they’ve experienced.

“Working with a (donor) family is simultaneously the most rewarding and difficult of what we do here,” said Brett. “There’s trust between you and that family. When you walk out the door at the end of the day, you’re exhausted but at peace.”

Early in their careers, they handled a wide range of duties in approaching donor families and coordinating transplants. “People called us the ‘Rescue Rangers’,” said Roy. “I was going to create a patch (for our uniforms).”

As close friends and long-time colleagues, they easily recall some of their most challenging cases—and the people they’ve met along the way who inspire their work. Those memories can still elicit strong emotions.

Brett was called into a hospital to help assist with the family of a teenage girl who had been in a car accident. It was a family he knew, and the teen’s mother was reluctant to agree to organ donation. “Her dad said, ‘What if this is what she needed?’” Brett recalls. “And then the mom was on board. You never know what will speak to a family at a given moment.”

Roy shares the memory of a surgeon desperately looking for a tissue donor for a 5-year-old patient who was going to lose her arm without a transplant. “Everyone had turned him down.” Roy decided he was going to try to make it happen—and succeeded. “I’ve since heard that the recipient plays musical instruments, including guitar.”

Both Brett and Roy came to their careers through unconventional routes but are so grateful that they’ve had opportunities to influence lives, while also watching Gift of Hope grow and flourish.

“One hundred percent I would do this again—in a heartbeat,” said Brett. “I found where I’m supposed to be.”

*Roy Mayfield is the Manager of Tissue Recovery Services and Brett Kesselring is the Director of Education and Training Services at Gift of Hope.

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