End Of The Day,
It's All About Your Family.
FREE nokr DECAL
is similar to that of the
Organ Donor decal, which is
administered by most licensing
like a visual symbol
that shows you have
with NOKR? Please send
NOKR a Self Address
Stamped Envelope (SASE)
with a note on how many
decals you need for
yourself, family or
A self-addressed stamped
envelope (SASE), is an
envelope with the
sender's name and
address on it, with
affixed paid postage and
mailed to NOKR at the
P.O. Box 1002
Bonita, CA 91908-1002
NOKR REGISTRATION DECAL
P.O. Box 1002
Bonita, CA 91908-1002
any emergency situation
emergency personnel will seek
out your identification. A
decal on your identification
will alert and expedite
locating your registered
contacts and any medical
concerns you may have
registered with NOKR.
Where can I place my decal?
your Drivers License or
your child’s school ID Card
your child care information
5) Add ICE NOKR
to your cell phone contacts.
Use this contact number
STORIES WITH NOKR
have a personal experience that you would like to share in hopes
that this may not happen to another family again? NOKR has
received many emails from people just like yourself asking to
share what they have endured to help others.
you like to share a story about a family member?
have a story about how the National Next Of Kin Registry has
helped you or your family?
Was a family
member injured, missing or deceased and you were not notified or
Do you have
a family member or friend that was alone when they were injured
or died and NOKR could have helped emergency responders locate
experience will be reprinted at the NOKR and will help others
understand what could happen and what has happened. NOKR has
created this area to allow people to share their experiences with
others. NOKR's intention is not to exploit your tragedies but to
help other avoid the same sadness that you have endured.
Mark Cerney the
founder of NOKR said “ If my story can help
solve the problems of today and the
mistakes of yesterday
then it's a story worth telling.”
WHY SHOULD YOU SHARE YOUR STORY?
So that we
can learn from mistakes of the past in order to educate and
enhance better communication in the future. Your stories will help
inspire others to reflect on what they are doing now and best
practices of tomorrow.
received will not have any personal contact information displayed.
Some stories may be reduced depending on length. Please do not add
a website link in your story as we cannot add outside links. NOKR
will only list the city, state and country where the event took
place. If you would like your first initial and last name
displayed please indicate this at the end of your story.
have a photo of your loved one to add with your story email this
firstname.lastname@example.org (Please do not change the subject
line of the email)
I discovered the registry a few months ago and just went ahead
and signed up my family, never really thinking that it would be
important. Then 17 days ago, my husband left to do a
construction job in a city 2 1/2 hours away, in a city where we
knew NO ONE! One mile from the job site, my 42-year-old husband,
who never complained of anything and seemed perfectly healthy,
HAD A HEART ATTACK! The front section of his heart had stopped.
He had two blockages.
I woke up to a phone call from the hospital. His cell phone
which had the I.C.E. (in case of emergency) stored in the phone
book was in his truck. But the words I heard on the other end of
phone was a young lady informing me that she had got my number
from the NEXT OF KIN REGISTRY and my husband was at the
hospital. She then gave me the information and directions and
told me what was going on with my husband.
To shorten the story, I was able to give her the information
they needed over the phone while in route to my husband. Thanks
to NOKR, I was standing next to my husband’s bed when he awoke
from his surgery. If I had not registered it could have taking
hours for the hospital to locate me.
Like most people, we have an unlisted number and he didn't take
his cell phone in with him. If he suffered from drug allergies
or had other problems, he could have been dead. So to NOKR, I
say thank you for making it possible for me to be there holding
his hand when he woke. And on a final note, while he was lying
in the hospital, he looked over at me and said, "Honey, I think
we should tell friends and folks about that "Registry Thing".
On Thursday April 20th 2006, a family called
NOKR from Milwaukee, Wisconsin and indicated that a family
member of theirs was found unconscious in his California home
due to a stroke. A neighbor had found the unconscious man's NOKR
registration card attached to his refrigerator. This card
prompted the family to call NOKR. NOKR promptly put the calling
family member in touch with the Milwaukee Sheriff's Department.
Within an hour NOKR was contacted by the Milwaukee Sheriff's
Department. In minutes NOKR verified the calling agency and
provided them access to the National registry. With this access
the Sheriff's Department was able to view the unconscious
person’s NOKR file and determined there were additional family
members the victim listed to notify.
I must say that of all the government
agencies I have contacted in the past that, your organization
has surpassed my highest expectations.
You have made a woman who was in a rather frenzied state, rest a
little easier knowing that she has been able to make contact
with her husband’s children when time was of the essence.
My sincere appreciation and I am sure Mary would say the same,
goes out to all who are working in this group.
I hope that you will forward this letter of thanks to all
involved and I would appreciate you passing this letter along to
the people who are responsible for administering such a useful
and helpful tool to the public.
You should be proud of how fast and efficiently you and your
group have replied to this request and actually gone above the
call of duty by contacting the parties involved to help a lady
in her time of distress.
As the days
passed, the nights flew by. We never knew that our lives would
be changed forever by Hurricane Katrina. I stood in my home of
12 years. I thought of the wonderful memories of my home. I
didn't have a car so me and my family couldn't get out of the
storm. I disavowed each idea as I tried to plot out how we would
either ride the storm out or would a miracle happen? The day
that the whole city was preparing to leave, a sudden feeling
came over me. I knew that something was wrong and that somehow I
must get out of the Hurricane. As we planned to pack our things
to get to the Superdome, which was packed, I realized that my
mother and father had an extra van that was paid off, but would
they give it to me? As two hours passed by, I started to think
in denial,” I will be ok, my family will be ok." Well it wasn't
ok and I knew that I would have to get out to save my family. My
parents called and said that we had to get out and that they
would let me use the van. I quickly called my wife and told her
that her and the children would need to pack all our important
papers and clothing for our next trip to "Hurricane Rita" (Lake
Charles, LA). As we went to Lake Charles and watch the news
continuously for 2 weeks, we knew that Hurricane Rita was about
to take a visit to Lake Charles. Well, my daughter was pregnant
and she was about to have a premature baby. WE didn't know that
she would come out of the hospital and be able to leave the
storm. She got out of the hospital the day before the storm was
supposed to hit.
We rode to Alexandria, LA to stay by my parents for 3 days.
Then, we decided that we needed to get where my job was located
so I could start making some money. My job was in Lubbock, TX. I
had to out there. Well, I got out there and my job was different
and not very compassionate. So, I left and moved to Houston
where I would be living for the rest of my life. I am now about
to start my own restaurant and move into a new home.
NOKR has helped me by giving me information about loved ones and
I would like to thank them for all of their hard work!! Thanks
On Saturday evening, January 16, 2005, I opened
the first bill that had come from Weiss Memorial Hospital for my
brother, Jim Cooper. It read:
December 17, 2004
CRITICAL CARE, FIRST HOUR, $681.00
INSERT EMERGENCY AIRWAY, $426.00
Jim had moved to the city for a fresh start in
the summer and we had not heard much from him. He was never a
great communicator and we often spoke about how "Oh, he's fine,
he's just busy." Besides, we told our mother, if something ever
happened to him, someone would be sure to let us know.
The following morning, Sunday, January 17, 2005,
after church, I called Weiss Memorial to inquire if my brother
was still there. After being transferred many times, an ICU
secretary bluntly told me that Jim had died a month ago,
December 17, 2004. Stunned, I asked, "Where is he now?" and my
call was transferred to Admitting where I discovered that Jim
was indeed still there . . . downstairs in their morgue.
Horrified, I said we would come into the city in the morning.
The next day, Monday, my sister Teresa and her
husband John, my husband and I drove into Weiss Memorial. The
manager of Admitting took us into a small office and asked,
"What do you know?" Huh? We really didn't know anything. He
kept telling us that he couldn't share any information with us.
Dumbfounded by his muteness, we pleaded for someone else we
might talk with. We were walked upstairs to a prayer room, to
After a long time, a Nursing Executive arrived
and announced that she wouldn't be of much help either but then
proceeded to ask "What do you know?" By this time my heartbreak
and frustration overflowed. Their lack of compassion, almost
indifference, was stunning. Why were we so unwelcome? Their
only concern was, "What do you know?" How could we know
anything? That's what we were there for.
We asked if there was some place where we could
get some water, sit and talk. We just really wanted to connect
with someone and piece things back together. We were
devastated. After being warned about the appearance of a month
old body, John went to the morgue. He identified the body and
collected Jim's belongings. We kept asking, "How could this
happen?" "What really happened?" The circular explanation
offered was that the death certificate was not satisfactory to
the Medical Examiners office, that the doctor was on family
medical leave, that the Medical Examiner wouldn't take the body
because of the error and since the ME never got the body. And
they really couldn't say much more. Apparently the death
certificate was still incomplete at that time.
Hoping to meet and speak with someone who had
actually cared for my brother, we returned to the hospital three
different times before eventually going away broken. It was
just too painful and too confusing. On the last visit we
finally saw Jim's doctor. She said she had never met my brother
and only spoke with the hospital by phone and didn't complete
the first death certificate until two weeks after he had died.
Jim had been working at running the kitchens (and
staying) at a homeless shelter near Weiss Memorial. He was
brought to the hospital, unconscious and never able to speak for
himself and it appears that he had no advocate at Weiss. Inside
his wallet, along with his drivers license and other ID was a
list of family names and phone numbers. While they took the
time to check his ID for a billing address, his date of birth
and social security number, they must have never looked any
further. Perhaps, assuming he was homeless too. I must say,
even homeless folks have hurting families who love them. Jim
was admitted to the ER at six in the morning and died about 9 in
the evening. All through that long day, none of the family
listed in his wallet nor anyone where he was working and living
was contacted. Somebody could have been there with him and
that hurts. And what about stashing a body in the basement for
a month? Does that happen a lot?
Mistakes happen every day and the first person
who assumed, "He must just be a homeless guy" made a horrible
mistake. I can forgive that. However, dozens of people must
have had the opportunity to correct that mistake and did not.
"Doesn't this guy have any family?" "Are you sure?"
We do not know what kind of medical care Jim
received. "Adequate", is what we guess, and we are grateful for
that. Sadly, we will never really know.
But we did get a bill.
Oceanside, California USA
1997, my 28-year-old son died at the guest quarters at March Air
Force Base, CA. He was a California Army National Guardsman, and
as such he was eligible to stay at military guest quarters when
traveling, but not on duty. Unknown to the Guard and almost
everyone but a few of his friends my son had been diagnosed with
Type 1 Insulin Dependent Diabetes about a year before his death.
He had not taken his insulin because if it had been detected
that he was a diabetic on insulin he would have been discharged
from the Guard that he so dearly loved. He went into cardiac
arrest and died secondary to diabetic ketoacidosis. The
Riverside County coroner is supposed to inform the next of kin
and when they found out that my son did not have his mother or
father (we are divorced) listed on his military records they did
nothing. Two days after his death an investigator from the Air
Force tracked me down.
Had this man not cared that my son had a proper burial, I may
not have known for years that he was dead because my son had not
been in contact with me or his father for six years. Boys exert
their independence sometimes in the hardest ways on Moms.
National Guard members don't get buried in the National Cemetery
until they have 20-years nowadays, so it was vital that his
Mother be found. I now live alone. I registered with NOKR. I
would not want my mother, or my surviving children to not know
for any period of time my whereabouts.
|Los Angeles, California USA
My seventy-one year old mother
Elaine Sullivan, a vibrant woman, living on her own, who slipped
and fell in her bathroom at home in Chicago. A neighbor found
her and sent for the paramedics, who took her to a local
Although doctors and nurses noted that she was unable to give
them a medical history or give consent for her treatment, the
hospital didn't make any effort to call us (or her personal
physician or HMO), for six days. Despite the fact that they had
my phone number right on the cover sheet of her chart, every
consent and admission form simply remained unsigned.
According to their records, the hospital and physicians missed
an open cut on my mother's foot, which quickly led to a staph
infection. They neglected to feed her, failed to take blood
cultures, or to give her the aggressive antibiotics she needed.
By the fifth day, she was in critical condition and in intensive
My daughter Laura and I are a mother and daughter writing team
and live in Los Angeles. Since my mother was supposed to have
left for vacation that week, we had no idea she'd been
hospitalized. By the time the hospital got in touch with us -
nearly seven days after her admission - it was clear that we
wouldn't make it to Chicago in time to be with her. Even though
we pleaded with the physicians and the nursing staff to get a
phone to her, so she could at least hear our voices for what
would probably be the last time, they totally refused.
Soon after she passed away, unnecessarily and completely alone.
When Laura and I found out how long she had actually been
hospitalized, our grief turned to action, trying to find a way
to keep the same thing from happening to anyone else. We began
to hear similar stories from families nationwide - circumstances
where people had been injured in accidents or had fallen ill at
home, and were hospitalized for hours, days or in some cases
weeks, without so much as a phone call to the patient's spouse,
family or emergency contact.
We were positive the hospital must have broken a law by not
calling me for six and a half days. But through research, we
discovered something incredible. There wasn't one Illinois,
California or federal law that required a hospital to contact a
patient's family, even if the patient is unconscious or unable
to communicate. In my mother's case that simple act would have
saved her life. Not only would we have known she had been
hospitalized, enabling us to be with her, but it also would have
enabled us to give her physicians the medical history they
needed to prevent complications that ended up claiming her
life. We also would have been able to see that she received the
care that she deserved.
That's when we decided to partner with legislators to create the
Next of Kin Law.
The moment our legislators heard our story and that of so many
other families, they agreed that we had to take action. So we
got together with Legislators in California and Illinois to
create The Next of Kin Law. With the help of health
organizations, advocacy groups and celebrities, the Next of Kin
Law was enacted in both states in 2000/01. The law simply
states that a hospital must make reasonable efforts to contact
the next of kin of patients who come into a hospital unconscious
or physically unable to give informed consent, within 24 hours
of admission. (read more about the state next of kin laws).
After my mother's death, we spoke the head of a local risk
manager's association, who told us that the only reason
hospitals notify families at all, is because it's the right
thing to do. From the people we've spoken to, this seems to be
the consensus. The problem is, staff members at busy,
overburdened hospitals can forget to do the right thing.
This law protects the rights of hospital patients and their
families, while reducing the hospital's own liability. By
providing a surrogate decision maker to make informed choices,
hospitals will not have to guess what a patient's wishes might
be. When a family member has been allowed to make a treatment
choice, the family is much less likely to sue, in the case of a
negative medical outcome, than if they had not been able to make
the informed decision for their loved one's care.
The good news is that to date, 6 states have a next of kin
statute on their books. They include California, Illinois,
Minnesota, Texas, Utah and Hawaii. The bad news is that 44
states are still unprotected.
This story was shorten by NOKR..