An evening at Hope College designed to raise awareness of organ donation will include a presentation by a physician whose patients have included a young girl who, now 14 years later, will be walking across the Hope graduation stage in a few short weeks.

The event will take place on Wednesday, April 24, at 7 p.m. in Winants Auditorium of Graves Hall.  It has been organized by the college’s Nurses Christian Fellowship student organization.

The public is invited, with seating available on a first-come, first-served basis.  Admission is free.

The event’s two speakers will include Dr. Michael Ackerman, who is on the staff of Mayo Clinic as a consultant in Pediatric Cardiology and Windland Smith Rice Cardiovascular Genomics Research Professor and Professor of Medicine, Pediatrics and Pharmacology.  Ackerman was in his pediatric cardiology fellowship training when he met Stefani Pentiuk of Leland, now a senior nursing major at Hope, in September 1999.  During that hospitalization at Mayo Clinic, Pentiuk underwent a heart transplant at age eight.

It was a successful procedure that a decade later led to the national news.  When Pentiuk asked before the surgery whether or not she would survive, Ackerman promised her that she would and that he would even dance with her years hence at her high school prom.  Ten years later, he kept his promise and surprised her by visiting and dancing with her at her senior prom.  The story is shared in a June 2009 segment from CBS’s “The Early Show” that is available online at

Ackerman earned the B.A. degree in chemistry and mathematics from Luther College in Decorah, Iowa, and graduated summa cum laude in 1988. He received his M.D. and Ph.D. degrees from Mayo Medical School and Mayo Graduate School in 1995. He did his residency training in pediatrics and adolescent medicine and fellowship training in pediatric cardiology in the Mayo Graduate School of Medicine from 1995 to 2000.

The evening’s other speaker will be Eric Beuker, a registered nurse who is the lung-transplant coordinator with Spectrum Health.  As a 1998 nursing graduate of Calvin College, Beuker participated in the nursing program that was offered jointly by Hope and Calvin colleges until each institution established its own independent department.  Prior to his current role with Spectrum Health, he worked for Gift of Life for 13 years.

The event is being coordinated by the college’s Nurses Christian Fellowship student organization to raise awareness for organ donation and, the group notes, “how we can see God through the ‘Gift of Life.’”

Graves Hall is located at 263 College Ave., between 10th and 12th streets.