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Blake champions gift of life

Valencia resident has worked more than 20 years to increase organ donations to benefit youngest pati

Posted: January 6, 2013 2:00 a.m.
Updated: January 6, 2013 2:00 a.m.

Nancy Blake, of Valencia, displays the Silver Medal of Honor awarded by the United States Department of Health and Human Services to Children's Hospital Los Angeles for meeting standards of excellent in organ donation.

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The United States Department of Health and Human Services recently honored Children’s Hospital Los Angeles for its commitment to saving lives through organ and tissue donation.  The hospital received the Silver Medal of Honor which acknowledged  the hospital’s standard of excellence in achieving a donation conversion rate of 75 percent or greater for the past two years.

Behind the headline is Nancy Blake, of Valencia.

Blake is the director of critical care services at Children’s Hospital and the liaison to One Legacy, the organ donor organization in the Los Angeles area.

In addition to her duties,  which include oversight of the emergency room, pediatric intensive care unit, and the neonatal intensive care unit, she also directs the Children’s Hospital Los Angeles organ donor program.

Blake has a passion for saving lives through organ donation.

“Organ donation is the one positive thing that can come out of tragedy — the donor is giving another family and another child a second chance at life,” she said.  “Helping families understand the importance of donation and coping with the decision is a team approach. This honor reflects the dedicated and delicate work of our physicians, nurses, respiratory care practitioners, social workers, child life specialists, hospital chaplains and many others.”  

Blake has worked at Children’s most of her professional life. Her current stint of 22 years was preceded by 8 years at Children’s interrupted only by a one year tour a Henry Mayo Newhall Memorial Hospital in Valencia.

Blake earned her nursing degree at Mount Saint Mary’s in West Los Angeles and followed it up with a Master’s in Nursing Administration from UCLA. In June she earned a doctorate’s degree in Nursing from UCLA.

In the past year, Children’s has performed 41 pediatric heart, liver and kidney transplants.

Blake said pediatric transplants are challenging because few organs become available and the size of the organ has to fit the recipient along with the other requirements of blood and tissue matching.

“It’s a happy day for us when somebody actually gets a transplant,” she said.

Blake is married to husband Kevin Blake, a detective with the Santa Clarita station of the Sheriff’s department. They have been married for 30 years and met at Six Flags Magic Mountain when they were in college.  Blake grew up in the San Fernando Valley and moved to the Santa Clarita Valley in 1980.

The Blakes have two children, Matt, a prominent baseball player at College of the Canyons and daughter Carlyn, a four year varsity swimmer at West Ranch High School.

Blake said it is a difficult decision for families to become an organ donor.

“I’ve had so many families tell us, a year down the road, that it makes it feel good that their child’s heart is beating in someone else,” she said. “It’s sad, but also rewarding.”

mbuttelman@signalscv.com

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