March 31, 2016
Tampa, FL - Anyone with a drivers’ license has – at least for a fleeting moment – thought about whether or not to become an organ donor. It’s a simple yes or no question. A blip on the radar, really. You check the box and move on to the next question.
It seems that many more of us have been checking yes, lately, as national donation and transplant rates have increased in recent years. Greater awareness of organ donation is the good news. The not-so-good news is that the gap between supply and demand has widened. Today, there are more than 120,000 patients nationwide awaiting life-saving organ transplants and 5,200 of those patients are at transplant centers in Florida.
Simply put, more organ, tissue and eye donors are needed on Florida’s Registry to ensure candidates for transplant get a second chance at life.
You may be wondering how it all works. At Citrus Memorial Hospital, we contact our designated organ procurement organization when we identify a potential deceased donor. The organization checks the Florida Registry to see if the individual is listed; if so, this information is shared with the family, and they will be consulted about the donor’s medical and social history.
The organ procurement organization then evaluates the medical suitability of the donor, manages the medical care of the donor until organ and tissue recovery can take place, and consults the national database to match the donor and patients in need of life-saving transplants based on specific medical criteria, such as blood and tissue type.
In 2015, 49 patients were identified as eligible for tissue donation at Citrus Memorial Hospital resulting in 18 total donors. The hospital was recognized for exceeding the nationwide target for conversion rate – the percentage of potential donors who went on to give the gift of life – and more than 900 recipients will benefit from bone, skin, heart valves, veins, ligaments, tendons and pericardial tissue.
It’s important to register as an organ donor because your family members may not be aware of your wishes regarding donation. If you’d like to become an organ donor you can add your name to the state donor list so your lifesaving decision can be fulfilled without question or hesitation.
Visit DonateLifeFlorida.org or call (877) 357-4273 and request a registry form to sign up. Even if you already have “organ donor” stamped on your driver’s license, you are encouraged to join the registry to ensure your previous designation is documented.
Katie Myers is an organ donor, tissue recipient and the Director of Marketing and Public Relations at Citrus Memorial Hospital.