Salt Lake City, UT -- (ReleaseWire) -- 04/04/2021 --When a loved one's life is over, it's difficult to see the silver lining on such a dark cloud.
While nothing can replace the hole left in a family's life by the death of a loved one, in certain situations one person's death can potentially save up to eight lives when that person chooses to be an organ donor.
"Knowing their loved one was able to help so many people in need brings a lot of peace and healing to the family left behind," said Mike Wood, operations director for Critical Care South, Intermountain Healthcare.
Last year Intermountain St. George Regional Hospital had its highest organ donation year despite the pandemic, with 11 donors that resulted in 34 organs transplanted.
It's an impressive number, particularly considering that, according to the organ donation web site, YesUtah.org, only about 2 percent of deaths nationwide meet the criteria for organ donation.
Wood said it is important to know that the medical staff treating the patient is focused on saving each person, regardless of whether he or she is an organ donor. In fact, the team dealing with organ donation is separate from the team providing patient care.
"We're not trying to increase numbers and get people's organs," Wood said. "We want to make sure that everything we're doing is within ethical considerations and doing the right thing."
If a patient meets certain criteria, such as a Glasgow score of less than 4, the organ donation team is notified of a possible donor; but even then, the situation requires everyone involved tread lightly.
"It's not something taken lightly or casually," Wood said. "The staff that is trained by DonorConnect to approach patient families do so with the utmost respect and sensitivity, knowing they are approaching during an extremely vulnerable time."
Organ donation statistics show that 90 percent of adults in the United States support organ donation, but only 60 percent sign up as donors, a disconnect that has Wood, and other on his team, perplexed.
"We don't know why there's such a discrepancy," he said.
One thing professionals dealing with organ donation do know is that it is an extremely personal decision for everyone — and saying "yes" can be as simple as checking a box.
"The easiest way is to say 'yes' on your driver's license form," Wood said.
For those who are not currently listed as organ donors but would like to be, don't worry, you don't have to make a trip to the DMV. You can sign up anytime on the web site www.yesutah.org. Once you are registered, you can specify which organs you are willing to donate and which you'd prefer not to donate. Organ donation decisions can be changed on the web site at any time, so you're not locked into the decision once it's made.
"Even being able to save one or two lives in the face of tragedy can be really healing for the family left behind," Wood said. "It helps them feel that their loved one is living on and helping others."
About St. George Regional Hospital
St. George Regional Hospital is part of Intermountain Healthcare, a not-for-profit system of 24 hospitals, 215 clinics, a Medical Group with 2,500 employed physicians and advanced practice clinicians, a health insurance company called SelectHealth, and other health services in Idaho, Utah, and Nevada. Intermountain is widely recognized as a leader in transforming healthcare by using evidence-based best practices to consistently deliver high-quality outcomes and sustainable costs.