By Laura Smith
Allegheny General Hospital Northside Partnership Director
Northside Leadership Conference
This month Allegheny General Hospital and the Center for Organ Recovery and Education are celebrating National Donate Life Month. Organ procurement agencies and hospitals across the nation are spreading the word and educating community members about organ donation and transplantation.
Throughout the month of April, AGH and CORE have planned a full schedule of activities designed to recognize and celebrate donors and recipients. These activities, which will be held at the hospital, include a Donate Life flag raising ceremony, a parade of recipients and the 7th Annual Rose Ceremony. AGH and CORE will also have information tables set up to provide education about the donation process and dispel common misconceptions about being a donor.
For example, across the nation, more than 116,000 people are awaiting an organ transplant and someone is added to the waiting list every 10 minutes. A single organ and tissue donor can save or improve the lives of up to 150 people. And everyone, regardless of age or health, is a potential organ donor.
The need for donors in the Pittsburgh region is critical. In the area served by Allegheny Health Network, more than 2,500 people are currently waiting for organ transplants and thousands more are in need of tissue or cornea transplants. Unfortunately, in our local area two people die every day waiting for a donor organ.
“As a transplant center we, (Allegheny General) sees firsthand how one person’s heroic decision to become an organ donor saves and transforms lives. However, the demand for donor organs continues to far outweigh the supply,” said Ngoc Thai, MD, transplant surgeon and Director of Abdominal Transplantation at AGH.
Allegheny Health Network has launched a new website, ahndonate.org to offer more information. The site also provides visitors with the opportunity to register online to become a donor. Additionally, by following #AHNDonate on Twitter, throughout April community members are invited to share their stories and learn more about donation.
“End-stage organ disease can strike anyone at any time, and it is only through the precious gift of organ donation that a second chance at life is possible,” said Raymond Benza, MD., Director of the Advanced Heart Failure, Transplantation, Mechanical Circulatory Support and Pulmonary Hypertension Program at AGH. “That’s why we are so proud to participate in Donate Life Month and join the Center for Organ Recovery and Education in its efforts to ensure that more people in need of transplantation have that second chance.”
Organ Donation Myths
MYTH: If I am in an accident and I’m a registered donor, doctors will not try to save my life
FACT: Doctors, nurses and paramedics will do everything to try and save your life. In fact, an individual needs to be in the hospital and on a ventilator at the time of death in order to donate organs. Core is not notified until all life-saving efforts have failed. The transplant team is not notified by CORE until after CORE has spoken with the individual’s family.
MYTH: My body will be mutilated and disfigured if I donate.
FACT: Donated organs and tissues are removed surgically in the hospital operating room. Doctors maintain dignity and respect for the donor at all times.
MYTH: My religion does not support donation
FACT: All major religions either support donation or view it as an individual decision.