Organ and tissue donors help hundreds in May
Gift of Life Michigan helped a record 63 people become organ donors and 177 gave the gift of tissue in May, saving and healing hundreds of critically ill patients throughout the state and across the country.
Michigan’s federally designated organ donation program also set a new milestone for organs transplanted with 167, eclipsing a record (140) that stood for a decade.
“I’m overwhelmed and so proud that the compassionate and dedicated people behind this organization who helped yet another record number of donors and their families give their last gifts on Earth,” said Dorrie Dils, president and CEO of the country’s 10th-largest organ procurement organization. “We’re doing everything we can to meet the needs of patients waiting for their lives to be saved. Some patients don’t have more to wait.”
The state waiting list for organ transplants stands at just under 2,400 people today. Roughly 80% are waiting for a kidney.
The tissue record is five above the last record set one year ago. Those donors gave gifts of healing, relief from pain, and, in some instances – with heart valves and skin – their tissue saved lives.
Dils said the milestones follow a nine-year trend of record-breaking months and years for Gift of Life, based in Ann Arbor. The May record for organ donors smashes an April high mark of 53 organ donors by 10, which is significant and encouraging.
“We’re in the midst of a major statewide campaign asking residents to ‘Check Your Heart,’ ” Dils said. “We believe the life-saving message is gaining traction – finding its way into people’s hearts – and they’re saying “yes, absolutely!’ ”
Among the reasons for May’s surge:
- Nearly half of the families of non-registered patients said they believe their loved one would want to donate organs and provided authorization for them to help others.
- An investment in crucial technology that extends the viability of organs outside the body before transplant, allowing more patients to donate and organs to be transplanted.
- The hiring of more clinical staff across Michigan ensures no donation opportunity is missed.
- Successful messaging through Check Your Heart, the largest statewide donor registration campaign in Gift of Life history, paired with more community education – particularly in workplaces and the state’s high schools.
“Hundreds of lives are on the line,” Dils said. “Every moment of our day is spent finding new ways to honor the decisions of our heroes – generous donors and their families. It is our great honor and we will continue until no one lingers or dies on the waiting list.”