South Florida Hospital News
Sunday September 22, 2019
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May 2010 - Volume 6 - Issue 11

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The Gift of Life: Organ Donation

An organ and/or tissue transplant is one of the most advanced medical practices. It requires sophisticated technology, a specialized medical team and persons who are willing to give the most precious gift; the Gift of Life. Donors are heroes that generously offer persons like Jackson McKenna a renewed life. Jackson (9 years old) received a liver transplant in 2001 when he was only 5 months old. His mother Jina McKenna states "We never really thought about organ donation until we found out that our baby needed a liver transplant. As the parent of a recipient, it was very hard to accept that someone else died for our baby to have a second chance. We are so thankful to our donor family for saying yes to organ donation in their greatest time of pain. We only hope they find comfort in their loss knowing that their decision saved at least one life."

It is people like Jacksonís donor family who bring hope to the 107,000+ persons nationwide awaiting a life saving transplant. One is added to the waiting list every ten minutes. Because there are not enough organs available, approximately 18 die each day. In the state of Florida, when a person registers to be a donor, it is a legally binding decision (persons are encouraged to share their decision with their loved ones so that they are aware of their wishes). However, Life Alliance (South Floridaís organ recovery agency) staff is always available throughout the donation process to provide support, guidance and information to the family. Because of the collaborative efforts between hospitals and the donor programs, families who are approached to discuss donation, receive support from a multidisciplinary team which focuses on meeting their personal, cultural and spiritual needs. The team is comprised of nurses, physicians, social workers, pastoral care and donor program staff.

Misconceptions about donation often prevent persons from registering to be donors. Many believe that persons who have designated their wishes will receive less care at the hospital. In reality, donation is only possible after all efforts to save a personís life have been performed. Furthermore, the medical team who cares for a patient at the hospital is different from the organ/tissue recovery team who is only contacted once a person has died. People of all ages and medical histories should consider themselves potential donors. Your medical condition at the time of death is evaluated and will determine what organs and tissue can be donated. In addition, every major religion supports organ, eye and tissue donation and considers it one of the highest expressions of compassion and generosity. Some fear that donation will involve an additional cost to the donorís family and/or donorís estate. All costs associated with donation are covered by the donor program that is involved in the process. Persons who receive organ transplants are chosen based on severity of their illness, body size, tissue type, blood type and other important medical information. A personís financial and/or social status is of no consideration.

More than 90 percent of Americans believe that organ, eye and tissue donation is the right thing to do yet only 30 percent of those same individuals have legally and properly documented their decision to donate. By saying "yes" to donation and designating your wishes to be an organ donor, you can potentially save the lives of eight persons. A single tissue/eye donor can bring health and healing to hundreds more. Eye/tissue donors make it possible for sight to be restored, burns to be healed and limbs to be saved.

Transplants offer patients a new chance at healthy, productive, and normal lives and return them to their families, friends and communities. You can register to become a donor in Florida by visiting www.DonateLifeFlorida.org. For more information and/or to schedule a presentation at your church, synagogue, social group or business, call (305) 243-2883.
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