Hospitals across the country are engaging in donor enrollment campaigns in an effort to significantly increase the number of registered organ, eye and tissue donors. There are more than 110,000 Americans waiting to receive donated organs and tissues and by the end of this year more than 6,100 will die because suitable donor organs couldn’t be found in time.
Hospitals recognize the important role they can play in enrollment efforts. Many are partnering with local procurement organizations within their communities; others are participating in statewide efforts led by their state hospital associations or engaging in national campaigns.
Hospitals, state hospital associations and national organizations are coordinating local efforts this month around National Donate Life Month, which is sponsored by Donate Life America, an alliance of national organizations and local coalitions dedicated to educating the public about donations. The alliance recently launched “20 Million in 2012,” an initiative that focuses on boosting the number of people registered on state donor registries. The AHA is a member of the alliance. The alliance encourages hospitals to “fly” Donate Life flags in April to show support and to share stories of hope. It also is coordinating “Blue and Green Day.” On that day, Donate Life America wants Americans to wear blue and green to show their support for organ and tissue donations.
Another important effort is “Workplace Partnership for Life,” a national hospital campaign sponsored by the Health Resources and Services Administration. The campaign, launched last June, said its first national benchmark is to register 300,000 new donors by April 30.
The campaign has brought together hospitals, the AHA and other national partners to encourage Americans to register and to celebrate those who have saved and improved lives through the gift of donation.
For example, in Little Rock, AK, representatives from Baptist Health Medical Center, St. Vincent Medical Center, the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences, Arkansas Children’s Hospital and the Arkansas Hospital Association recently signed a commitment to partner with the Arkansas Regional Organ Recovery Agency (ARORA), a nonprofit organ procurement organization, to register an additional 60,000 Arkansas residents as organ donors by April 30.
Baptist Health Medical Center staff and volunteers have set up informational and educational booths in the hospital’s high-traffic areas, staffed registration fairs, placed organ donation public service announcements on the health system’s on hold messages and established a presence on Facebook, Twitter and other social media. St. Vincent Medical Center has built an organ donor wall to serve “as a constant reminder of the generosity of our community and the unique life-saving, life-enhancing gift of organ donation,” said Peter Noonan, the hospital’s vice president of mission integration.
The campaign demonstrates the “commitment of Arkansas’ hospitals and others to working toward the day when our waitlist is measured in days and weeks, not months and years,” said Arkansas Hospital Association President and CEO Bo Ryall.
“Hospitals and health systems have the unique ability to educate patients, visitors, members of the community, as well as their own staff and caregivers about the importance of signing up to become an organ and tissue donor,” added Michael Hudson, ARORA’s director of hospital development.
“Our state’s hospitals can give hope to people currently awaiting an organ transplant.”
The Louisiana Hospital Association and the Louisiana Organ Procurement Agency were leaders in initiating statewide campaigns.
Their 2010 effort resulted in more than 250,000 residents signing up as organ donors.
“The [Louisiana] campaign was created so that all hospitals, regardless of size or type, could work together for a common cause and have a major impact,” said Louisiana Hospital Association President and CEO John Matessino. To learn more, go to “Advocacy Issues” atwww.aha.org and click on “Organ Donation” under “Key Initiatives.”