My name is Beth Frenkel and I am the tissue navigator for Gift from a Child (GFAC) program at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia. I began my professional career as a licensed funeral director and then transitioned into being an advocate for organ and tissue donation for transplant as a liaison for medical examiners, coroners and funeral professionals for the Gift of Life Donor Program. I encouraged for best practices to be followed so that the rare opportunity of organ and tissue donation and forensic investigation could be compatible to help save and improve lives.
After graduating from high school in New Jersey, I attended Penn State University and graduated with a B.S. in BioBehavioral Health – the study of how biology, behavior, and social factors can affect health and illness. During my senior year, I felt called into the funeral profession. After graduating from college, I earned an Associate’s degree in Funeral Arts and Sciences from the Pittsburgh Institute of Mortuary Science and I have been a licensed funeral director since 2006.
I was drawn to the GFAC Tissue Navigator position because it encompassed the most rewarding pursuits encountered in my career – working with families and advocating for the importance of tissue donation to help save others. Brain tumors in children and adults are not the same. Pediatric tumors grow and change rapidly and the same research studies done in adult tumors cannot be applied to those that occur in children. Hope for a cure for children begins with selfless families who have gone through unimaginable pain and trauma to reach deep down in their hearts and give permission for samples to be used to save others. Organizations like Gift from a Child and the Swifty Foundation offer families that have the devastating diagnosis of childhood brain cancer the opportunity to help researchers study the tumor and help develop new treatments and therapies to help other children. These families that choose to donate will be the key to finding a cure. It’s truly a powerful legacy to leave behind.