Updates from Sierra Nevada Memorial Hospital and Hospital Foundation
One of the most touching and heart-wrenching experiences within our hospital is an honor walk. This experience is emotional and poignant. An honor walk is a quiet, yet profound and powerful way to give a loved one a hero’s goodbye.
An honor walk takes place with the consent of the family as a dying patient is transferred from the ICU (Intensive Care Unit) to an operating room, waiting ambulance, or helicopter. Hospital staff and family are invited to line the hallways and stand in silence to honor those that have made the courageous decision to donate an organ or organs to save another’s life.
More than 114,000 men, women, and children are on the national transplant waiting list with nearly 22,000 residing in California. Nationally, every nine minutes another person is added to that list. Sadly, 22 people die every day holding out hope for a donor match.
Approximately 98 organ transplants take place every day resulting in over 36,000 people who begin a new life each year. The need for tissue is steadily rising with over one million tissue transplants performed annually. In addition, corneal transplants restore sight to 50,000 people each year.
Organ donors come from all ages, ethnicities and medical histories. More than one-third of all deceased donors are age 50 or older and nearly 10 percent are 65 or older.
An organ donor can provide up to eight organs. This may include the heart, two lungs, liver, pancreas, two kidneys and intestines. Donors may also give eyes and tissue. Donating organs, eyes or tissue is no small gesture. The donation process not only saves lives, but has a tremendous impact on a grieving family. It turns tragedy into a powerful way to begin healing.
So, what does the organ donation process look like? Organs are allocated according to medical need, blood, tissue type, height and weight. It is a federal crime to sell organs and tissues. When an organ donor is admitted to the hospital, the highest priority is to save his or her life. Two physicians that are not connected to organ and tissue donation must declare a patient brain dead before the organ donation can be considered.
Anyone can sign up as an organ donor, although families of registered donors under the age of 18 must provide consent to the donation before it can be carried out. One way to sign up is to check YES at the DMV when applying for or renewing your driver’s license or ID. Another way is to sign-up on the Donate Life California website, although you must be at least 13 to do so online.
It is important to include that you are an organ donor in your Advanced Health Care Directive and to make sure those close to you know of your wishes. There is no cost to the donor.
There is no greater gift one can give, than a gift of life to someone for which hope is all they have to hold onto.
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