Members of the Public are Urged to Become Organ Donors

Minister De Silva to Launch Organ Donor Week, 10:00am, Monday 18 April 2011

Bermuda Hospitals Board is joining with the Minister of Health and the Bermuda Organ and Tissue Donor Association (BOTDA) to urge more Bermudians to become organ donors as part of Organ Donor Week.

The week will be launched by the Hon. Zane De Silva in the lobby at King Edward VII Memorial Hospital on Monday 18 April at 10:00am. Representatives from the hospital and the New England Organ Bank will also speak, along with a Bermudian organ donor.

A lobby display and information table, staffed by members of BOTDA, will be available until 4:00pm on Monday. Members of the public are encouraged to stop by to have their questions answered and their concerns addressed.

While advances in medical science have made transplant surgery a treatment option for some serious diseases, there remains a global shortage of organs. Many people both in Bermuda and around the world wait months and years for transplantation.

Minister of Health, the Hon. Zane De Silva said: “We need more organ donors and we hope that the education available as part of Organ Donor Week will encourage more Bermudians to get on board. I urge everyone to get informed about organ transplantation and become a donor. Organ donation saves lives – and there is no greater gift you can give another human being. Every day, people die waiting for organ transplants and every 11 minutes another person´s name is added to the list of thousands who await lifesaving organ transplants. Currently, there are over 110,000 patients waiting for a transplant in the United States, including those awaiting transplants in Bermuda.”

Judy Richardson, BHB Chief of Nursing, Quality and Risk, said: “We currently treat 113 people at our dialysis unit every week- 40 of these patients are on the waiting list for a donated kidney. And over the past 10 years, 37 Bermudians have been transplant recipients. Organ donors provide patients with life-saving alternatives to illness and greatly improve their quality of life. We have an opportunity this week to increase the number of people in our community who are organ donors, which will also give new hope to many Bermudians who are currently on transplant waiting lists. In addition to filling out a donor card, we urge people choosing to become donors to share their decision with family members.”

Kerrie Casey, Hospital Relations Coordinator for the New England Organ Bank, said: “Bermuda is affiliated with the New England Donor Bank and follows best practice protocols, which includes evaluating potential donors, discussing donation with family members, coordinating the surgical removal of donated organs and arranging organ distribution according to national policies. Although most people support donation, many have not taken the important step of signing up to be a donor and making sure their relatives understand their wishes.”

Veronica Colburn, Manager of BHB’s ICU and member of BOTDA, adds: “We want to reassure the community that if you are sick or injured, the number one priority of the medical team is to save your life. Organ and tissue donation will be pursued only after all efforts to save your life have failed, and after your family has been consulted. Donor cards are available at doctors’ offices, post offices and TCD. Members of the public may also contact the hospital at 239-1282 or the ICU at 239-1460 for more information about becoming an organ donor.”

Notes to editors about organ donation:
Donated organs and tissues are removed surgically and careful attention is made so that an open casket funeral is still an option. You can still receive a traditional burial or cremation if you donate. Organ and tissue donation is completely free. A donor´s family is not charged for donation. Factors that affect waiting times for organ recipients are patient medical status, availability of donors and level of match between the donor and recipient. Organs are usually first made available to the sickest patients in the region where the organ was donated. If there is no medical match in that area, then the organ is offered to patients in a broader geographic area.

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