Members of the Public are Urged to Become Organ Donors

Bermuda Hospitals Board (BHB) and the Bermuda Organ and Tissue Donor Association (BOTDA) are marking next week’s Organ Donation Campaign by urging more Bermudians to become organ donors. The main focus of the annual promotion is educating the community about this vital and life-saving process. Members of the public are invited to stop by the King Edward VII Memorial Hospital lobby to learn more about becoming organ donors. A poster display and information table will be available throughout the week and healthcare professionals will be available to discuss organ donation on Monday 28 April from 10:00am to 1:00pm in the lobby.

Muriel Williams, BHB Registered Nurse and President of BOTDA says: “The best and easiest way to become a donor is to fill out a donor card, available at TCD, doctor’s offices and at post offices. Your choice to be a donor may also be indicated on your driver’s license. Carrying a signed donor card is a good way to confirm your consent. It is equally important to discuss this decision with family members so your interest in becoming a donor is been clearly made known. Your surviving next of kin has the authority to make a final decision regarding organ donation and this even supersedes what is indicated on your driver’s license. To avoid family conflicts during a stressful and challenging time, it is important your wishes have been communicated with your loved ones in advance.”

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.

Ms Williams adds: “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 awaiting a lifesaving organ. Currently, there are over 110,000 patients waiting for a transplant in the United States, including people in Bermuda.”

Judy Richardson, BHB Chief of Nursing, Quality and Risk, says: “We currently treat 160 people at our dialysis unit every week- 25 of these patients are on the waiting list for a donated kidney. Over the past ten years, 45 Bermudians received kidney transplants. 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.”

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.

André Outerbridge and Charmaigne Laws, who lost their only child, daughter Chardré Yawana, in 2002 following a road traffic collision, made the decision to donate her organs. “We choose to honour the memory of our beloved daughter by giving the gift of life to others,” Charmaigne says. “It brings us comfort knowing that from our personal tragedy, another family’s child may have been saved. We encourage Bermudians to become organ donors and help save the lives of those waiting transplantation.”

Ms. Williams notes: “We want to reassure the community that if you are sick or injured, our number one priority 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. Members of the public may contact the hospital at 239-1460 for more information about becoming an organ donor. In addition, Members of BOTDA are available for presentations at companies and business wishing to know more about organ donation.”

Activities scheduled for the week

28 April to 2 May
King Edward VII Memorial Hospital (KEMH)
Lobby display and information table

28 April, Monday
10:00am to 1:00pm
Healthcare professionals will register donors and answer questions

29 April, Tuesday
11:00am to 1:00pm
Free public screenings for blood pressure and blood sugar; registering organ donors

30 April, Wednesday
Butterfield Bank, Reid St.
11:00am to 1:00pm
Free public screenings for blood pressure and blood sugar; registering organ donors

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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