Currently within the United States, there are 116,000 patients waiting for life-saving transplants. There are 650,000 Americans facing end-stage renal disease with 468,000 Americans on dialysis. As the number of people on the list for transplants continues to grow exponentially, organs are not available and 20 patients die each day. The sad news is that every 10 minutes another person is added to the waiting list. Recent studies show that 95 percent of US adults support organ donation, but only 58 percent are actually signed up to be a donor.
Each year, Mount Nittany Medical Center has participated in the Hospital and Healthsystem Association of Pennsylvania’s challenge to increase organ donation awareness within the organization and community. We are currently in our fifth year of the challenge and received Titanium status, the highest honor, for 2018. Although we are competitive with other organizations, we participate with the one intention to raise awareness about organ donation and the struggle of those waiting on transplant lists.
Mount Nittany Medical Center is part of the Gift of Life organ procurement organization that is located in Philadelphia. Gift of Life has lead the nation as the most generous region in the United States. There were 1,546 transplants that occurred in 2017. In addition to the solid organ transplants, there were 1,281 musculoskeletal donors and 2,112 cornea donations. These amazing numbers would not be possible without the collaboration of all the hospitals in the region working together for the patients in need of a life-saving organ.
Organ and tissue donation is the gift of life. Up to eight people can benefit through solid organ donations of the lungs, heart, kidneys, liver, pancreas and intestines. Countless others are helped, and their quality of life is improved from tissue donation that includes heart valves, veins, skin, bones and corneas. Donors can designate all or specific organs or tissues they would like to donate. There are no costs to the family for organ and tissue donation. Through the entire donation process, the body is treated with care, respect and dignity. It is also important to note that many religions support organ and tissue donation and see it as the final act of love and generosity to others.
What can you do? Talk to your family and loved ones about your wishes regarding organ donation. Educate yourself on organ donation. You can make your wishes known through your living will. Join the teams at Mount Nittany Health on April 12 by wearing blue and green to support organ donation. We have had some extremely generous families give the gift of life from our region helping waiting patients all over the United States.
Jacqueline Hahn, RN, BS, CPUR, CCM is the director of case management for Mount Nittany Medical Center.
This article originally appeared in the Centre Daily Times.