Organ Donations

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It's a step hospitals are required to take whenever a death occurs: a designated requestor must talk to family members and find out if the organs of the recently deceased can be donated.

Laura White admits it's not an easy job, but as a trained requestor, she's prepared for the situation.

"Certainly it's difficult when a family is grieving to ask them, 'would you consider donating your loved ones organs?' but knowing there's such a need, and getting training certainly prepares you to say someone needs your organs," Laura White, Emergency Dept. Manager, Ingham Regional Medical Center.

But a recent study finds about 75 percent of Michigan hospitals violate the law requiring them to provide training for designated requestors. Gift of Life, who trains personnel, says they don't publish the numbers to point fingers, but to determine what problems need to be addressed.

"We need to work closer with the hospitals. We've even increased our staff size so we can work collaboratively and provide a better service," Christine Giberson, Gift of Life.

According to the Detroit Free Press, studies show donations reach 60 percent when a trained requestor is involved, versus 15 percent with an untrained staffer. Training is usually done in a four-hour seminar where trainees learn how to talk to families about donations, and the need and benefits of organ donations.

Some hospitals can participate in the "Life Program" where Gift of Life provides the trained requestors to the hospital. For more information on this or organ/tissue donation, call Gift of Life at 1-800-482-4881. Extended Web Coverage

Organ and Tissue Donors

Each day about 63 people receive an organ transplant, but another 16 people on the waiting list die because not enough organs are available.

Talk to your family members about organ and tissue donation so they know your wishes.

Organ Donation Frequently Asked Questions

Who can become a donor?

  • All individuals can indicate their intent to donate (persons under 18 years of age must have parent's or guardian's consent).

Are there age limits for donors?

  • There are no age limitations on who can donate. The deciding factor on whether a person can donate is the person’s physical condition, not the person’s age.

  • Newborns as well as senior citizens have been organ donors.

How do I express my wishes to become an organ donor?

  • Indicate your intent to be an organ and tissue donor on your driver’s license.

  • Carry an organ donor card.

  • Most importantly, discuss your decision with family members and loved ones.

What can be donated?

  • Organs: heart, kidneys, pancreas, lungs, liver, and intestines

  • Tissue: cornea, skin, bone marrow, heart valves, and connective tissue

Are there any costs to my family for donation?

  • The donor’s family does not pay for the cost of the organ donation. All costs related to donation of organs and tissues are paid by the recipient, usually through insurance, Medicare or Medicaid.

How are the organs distributed?

  • Patients are matched to organs based on a number of factors including blood and tissue typing, medical urgency, time on the waiting list, and geographical location.

Current Waiting List – As of July 19, 2002

  • Kidney Transplant – 52,766
  • Liver Transplant - 17,543
  • Pancreas Transplant - 1,329
  • Intestine Transplant - 192
  • Heart Transplant - 4,134
  • Heart-Lung Transplant - 210
  • Lung Transplant - 3,782

Source: (U.S. Government Organ Donation Web site)