Friday, November 7, 2014

A second chance at life

MAKING A DIFFERENCE: From left, Morin, Garcia, Seaward-Hersh and Tanklow

Living organ donors are a special group who have made the selfless choice to undergo surgery that is of no physical benefit to them. On Oct. 18, these extraordinary individuals – who voluntarily offer a kidney or portion of their liver to a patient on the MGH transplant list – were honored at the MGH Transplant Center Living Donor Forum in the Buckley Conference Room.

“We started the forum because we felt that our living donors needed a place to share these unique experiences, a place where they could continue to be honored for the gift they gave,” said Karen Tanklow, MSW, a clinical social worker in MGH Social Service. “These events afford us the opportunity to learn from the ‘experts’ how to enhance the donor experience.”

Tanklow – along with transplant coordinators Anne Seaward-Hersh, RN; Denise Morin, RN; and assistant live donor transplant coordinator Jobanna Garcia – established the forum in September 2013. Participation has continued to increase at each event with nearly 20 attendees at the most recent forum. Each donor had an opportunity to share their experience, many noting how it changed their lives for the better. In addition to sharing their experiences, the donors seek to raise awareness. By speaking publicly about the living donation process, they hope other potential donors will gain more insight into the process.

“One misconception consistently mentioned is that you need to be related to the recipient or have the same blood type to donate,” said Tanklow. “Donors and recipients no longer need to be related to donate, and if their blood type does not match, there are other options available, such as kidney paired exchange.”

To learn more about the MGH Living Donation program, call 877-644-2860.

A flurry of transplants
Twenty-one transplants were performed at the MGH in October, making a total of 176 to date in 2014 across all organ programs – 16 more transplants than last year. Although October was not a record month, there was a flurry of transplants in a three-day span. From Oct. 20 to 22, five kidneys and four livers were transplanted. Each transplant requires coordination among transplant surgeons, donor hospitals, transplant nurse coordinators, inpatient staff, intensive care units, operating rooms, central processing and New England Organ Bank colleagues.

“This is truly a commendable achievement for our staff to bring the gift of life to our patients who have waited on the transplant list,” says Angela Marquez, MPH, administrative director, MGH Transplant Center and Division of Transplant Surgery. “Thank you to everyone involved in the organ donation and transplantation efforts and the care of our patients and families at the MGH.”

Read more articles from the 11/07/14 Hotline issue.


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