Berks County Medical Society Medical Record Summer 2017 - 12

M e d i c a l R e c o R d F e at u R e

ORGAN DONATION
TRANSFORMS LIVES
by D. Michael Baxter, MD
Chair, Department of Family and Community Medicine
Reading Health System

A

s physicians know, organ donations improve people's health
and save lives. One organ, tissue and eye donor may save
up to eight lives and enhance the lives of up to 75 others.
Nationally, 118,000 people are waiting for an organ transplant, and
22 people die each day because an appropriate match was not found
in time.
In our region, more than 5,400 people are waiting for an organ
transplant. To date, less than 50 percent of Pennsylvania residents
are registered to donate their organs.
Physicians can help improve these statistics, and in doing so,
enhance the health and well-being of residents in Berks County and
beyond.
Reading Health System currently is participating in the 2017
Pennsylvania Donate Life Hospital Challenge, which is supported
by the Hospital and HealthSystem Association of Pennsylvania in
partnership with the Pennsylvania Department of Health and two
regional organ procurement organizations - the Center for Organ
Recovery & Education, and the Gift of Life Donor Program.
The challenge, which runs April 1 through August 31, 2017,
aims to encourage Pennsylvania hospitals to implement strategies
that increase awareness and enrollment in state organ donor
registries.
Physicians, particularly primary care physicians, can play a role
in raising awareness as well. Primary care physicians who talk with
patients at annual physicals can help educate patients about the
benefits of registering as an organ donor.
Physicians are tremendously busy, and hearing that there's
another potential topic to add to a patient's annual checkup may
sound daunting. But it needn't be a long conversation. Do you ask

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patients if they've considered advance planning directives? Asking
if the person has considered organ donation can be a simple part of
that conversation.
As physicians, we have a responsibility to advance the health
of the community at large. By encouraging people to consider
organ donation, we are advocating for health and wellness in our
community.
Some patients may not be aware that it is possible to register as
an organ donor. Others may hesitate to register because they harbor
misconceptions about what donor registration actually means.
Physicians can help dispel these misconceptions and provide contact
information to donor organizations for patients who have more
questions.
What are some of these misconceptions? For starters, some
people express concern that they're too old or not healthy enough
to donate organs. In fact, anyone can register as a donor - regardless
of age, race or medical condition. A person's medical condition at
the time of death will determine what organs and tissues can be
donated.
Another misconception is that if a person registers as an
organ donor, medical personnel will not save his or her life in
an emergency, because they'll want to utilize the organs. Quite
obviously, medical personnel would never consider doing
that, but nonetheless, it is a concern that people express. As
physicians, we can help patients understand that their life and
well-being will always come first. We can explain that the organ
procurement organization will only be notified if life-saving efforts
are unsuccessful, and that the organization will not contact the
transplant team until the person's family has approved the donation.


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Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Berks County Medical Society Medical Record Summer 2017

Berks County Medical Society Medical Record Summer 2017 - 1
Berks County Medical Society Medical Record Summer 2017 - 2
Berks County Medical Society Medical Record Summer 2017 - 3
Berks County Medical Society Medical Record Summer 2017 - 4
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Berks County Medical Society Medical Record Summer 2017 - 35
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