Feb. 3, 2005 — University of Utah Hospital continues to have one of the top organ donation consent rates in the country and the highest in the Intermountain West, according to data collected by the United Network for Organ Sharing (UNOS). The data, which reflects consent rates of medically eligible organ donors during 2004, shows University Hospital has a consent rate of 95 percent compared to the national average of 50 percent.
“We’re always sensitive to the difficult circumstances under which family members are forced to make decisions about organ donation,” said Kim Phillips, R.N., M.S.N., manager of the hospital’s Solid Organ Transplant Program. “Our nurses, social workers, and other staff are trained from the first day they start at University Hospital to recognize and understand the importance of these decisions. This training helps staff work with patients and their families to make informed decisions regarding donation.”
He specifically cited the commitment of staff in the hospital’s Surgical Intensive Care Unit, Neuro Critical Care Unit, and Operating Room as key to the high consent rate.
There are currently more than 87,000 people in the United States on the waiting list for an organ transplant. Phillips says a single donor can help save the lives of more than 50 people waiting for transplants by providing organs such as: heart, kidneys, lungs, pancreas, liver, intestines, corneas, skin, tendons, bone, and heart valves.
According to UNOS, 16 people die each day waiting for transplants because donor organs aren’t available. Every 13 minutes, a new name is added to the U.S. transplant waiting list.
There are currently 58 people waiting for heart transplants, 120 people waiting for kidney transplants and seven people waiting for lung transplants in Utah, according to Intermountain Donor Services.
Phillips says recent surveys indicate 97 percent of Utahns favor the idea of organ donation. The key, he says, is for individuals to discuss their wishes to be an organ donor with family members. “We have the potential in this country to eliminate our donor shortage. It is up to people to register as organ donors and then express that desire to their family,” he said.
For information on how to register as an organ donor, call Intermountain Donor Services at 1-800-833-6667, or on the web at www.yesutah.org .