Of the 130 hospitals in the tri-state region served by the Gift of Life Donor Program, Christiana Care ranks first in the number of families that have chosen to donate organs.
In 2011, 45 donors and their families gave 141 patients the lifesaving gift of a heart, lung, liver, pancreas or kidney. Another 94 donated bone, skin, cornea and heart-valve tissue, potentially saving the lives of or assisting more than 6,000 patients. This represents record participation from the communities Christiana Care serves.
The success of the program stems from Christiana Care’s strong support of the donation and transplant process, and the supportive collaboration of Christiana Care’s critical care teams and Gift of Life staff, according to Joanne Matukaitis, RN, director of Patient Care Services, Critical Care, and Christopher Schimpf, RN, Gift of Life Donor Program Hospital Services coordinator.
When a patient is approaching death, with no chance of survival, Christiana Care staff begins working with Gift of Life. Together they coordinate all aspects of the donation process: supporting the family, obtaining consent, ordering appropriate tests, recovering the gifts, and following up with the family.
“One of the aspects of organ and tissue donation that can be overlooked is the solace it can bring to donor families in the midst of their loss,” says Schimpf. One mother of a 16-year-old girl, who donated her daughter’s organs after a car accident, said that when the phone stopped ringing with people offering support, the only thing keeping her going was that her child saved eight lives. That knowledge was the only comfort she had in her grief. She called it her lifeline.
In our region, 6,482 candidates are on the waiting list for organs. More than 113,000 candidates are waiting nationally.