Spero Awards reflect UMMC, UMMC Grenada's transplant excellencePublished on Monday, August 6, 2018Media Contact: Ruth CumminsIn his work in the neuroscience intensive care unit at the University of Mississippi Medical Center, Dr. Gilbert Mbeo sees the fragility of patients who sometimes hover between life and death.His job is to save lives and heal patients. Often, that includes giving patients and families “spero,” the Latin word for hope.Mbeo, an assistant professor of neurology, is among a group of health care practitioners and hospitals honored this year by the Mississippi Organ Recovery Agency with Spero Awards. The title was chosen to reflect the hope that organ and tissue donation brings to those in need of a life-saving organ or a life-healing tissue transplant.Being named MORA’S Physician Champion of the Year is humbling, Mbeo said. “In the ICU, everyone comes together as a team. It’s a chance to help people and families going through a hard time,” he said. “It’s a new situation for most people, and it can be a tough place to be.”Dr. Gilbert Mbeo, assistant professor of neurology, teaches UMMC residents and medical students during rounds in the neuroscience ICU.This year’s awards ceremony held July 31 recognized hospital partners, medical professionals, corporate partners and donor ambassadors statewide who work in conjunction with MORA to promote organ, eye and tissue donation.In addition to Mbeo, Medical Center Spero Award recipients are:Most Supportive Ancillary or Healthcare Staff: Dr. Jesus Monico, an instructor in the Department of PathologyHospital Leadership of the Year Award: Michelle Crawford, abdominal transplant coordinator at UMMC GrenadaCommunity Faith Leader or Chaplain of the Year: Doris Whitaker, director of pastoral servicesMost Supportive Organ and Tissue Hospital: UMMC GrenadaMississippi Lions Eye Bank Gift of Sight Award: UMMCCrawford shepherds care that includes imaging and lab studies for patients in the Grenada region awaiting an abdominal transplant on the Jackson campus, and she and her team facilitate much of their post-surgery care. The Grenada campus sees a large number of patients in need of a pancreas or kidney transplant, she said.“Most of them drive several hours to Grenada just so they can be placed on the national wait list through UMMC,” she said. “Our goal is to improve the quality of life, and if transplanting the patient improves their quality of life, then that’s our goal. Without organ donors, many of our patients would remain on dialysis and never be able to have a normal life.”UMMC Grenada employees decorate windows, walls and bulletin boards in April during Donate Life Month.UMMC also was recognized with a Hospital Excellence Award given to eight Mississippi hospitals achieving national organ donation performance standards set by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.UMMC and UMMC Grenada were recognized for being among 28 Mississippi hospitals that have enrolled in the Mississippi Hospitals for Hope campaign, which was developed to raise awareness for the need of organ, eye and tissue donation and increase registrations.There are nearly 1,300 Mississippians on an organ transplant waiting list, with more than 1,200 of those needing a new kidney, MORA says.