June 26, 2009

Initiative seeks to increase awareness of need for donors

Initiative seeks to increase awareness of need for donors

Every 11 minutes a patient is added to the national organ transplant waiting list, but nearly 18 patients die daily while waiting.

There are an estimated 102,000 people in the United States waiting for life-saving organ transplants. Nearly 2,200 are in Tennessee, and 800 of them are listed at the Vanderbilt Transplant Center.

Because the number of people needing transplants far exceeds the number of potential donors, Vanderbilt Medical Center and Tennessee Donor Services (TDS) want to make a difference — one that may save lives.

Donate Life Vanderbilt, an initiative to educate the community about the need for life-saving organs and tissue and increase the number of online registrants, was developed to help solve this growing crisis.

Organizers at Vanderbilt recently conducted a University-wide survey to learn more about what faculty and staff know about the donation process. The survey was sent to 22,000 employees with a 20.5 percent survey response rate.

More than one-fourth of respondents have been affected in some way by the need for organ, tissue or bone marrow donation.

“The survey has proven very helpful because we were able to identify things about the donation process that people are not familiar with,” said C. Lee Parmley, M.D., J.D., executive Medical Director, Critical Care Units.

“Now we will be able to address some of the common misconceptions about donation in an effort to get more people registered and, most importantly, help them reach a comfortable level around the idea of donation.”

Donate Life initiatives, both statewide and at Vanderbilt, were held this spring to promote Tennessee's online donor registry.

To register, go to www.TnDonorRegistry.org.