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.
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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?
Are there age limits for donors?
How do I express my wishes to become an organ donor?
What can be donated?
Are there any costs to my family for donation?
How are the organs distributed?
Current Waiting List – As of July 19, 2002
Source: http://www.organdonor.gov/ (U.S. Government Organ Donation Web site)