FORT WORTH, Texas – The excitement in the room was palpable as a team of Harris Methodist leaders and clinicians alongside their counterparts from LifeGift Organ Donation Center received a Medal of Honor during an Organ Donation Breakthrough Collaborative learning congress May 18-19 in Pittsburgh.
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services award recognizes teams who met a goal of a 75 percent “conversion” rate – when potential donors become actual donors – during a year-long period since the collaborative began in October 2002. Just 184 hospitals of the 5,000 in this country were honored.
“Our staff has worked tirelessly with our colleagues at LifeGift to embrace the opportunities the collaborative offers to raise donation rates and save lives,” remarked Harris President Barclay E. Berdan, who also serves as chairman of the board of directors for LifeGift.
And while Harris long has had a strong partnership with LifeGift, this effort cultivated camaraderie among team members. They included Director of Medical Services Lucy Brown, Clinical Education Specialist Debbie Brown, Manager of Trauma Intensive Care Unit Ann Foreman, LifeGift Managing Director Ron Ehrle and Donation Clinical Specialist Sergio Manzano.
Harris reached a conversion rate of 80.4 percent from April 2004 through March 2005. These results contributed to a national increase during 2004 of 11 percent over the 2003 rate and a total of 6,000 more transplants nationally. Prior to the Collaborative, the national organ donation conversion rate nationally hovered at 50 percent.
Asserting that it's a new day in the organ donation arena, Collaborative Co-Chair and LifeGift Chief Operating Officer Teresa Shafer applauded the nation's hospitals and OPOs. “It takes courage to move a system. We have a compelling mission, a passionate pursuit, and we push the envelope.”
Berdan echoed these sentiments during a presentation for hospital and OPO leaders. “Hospital and OPO leaders must accept the challenge of raising its donation rates; assess the readiness of his or her organization to commit to change; maximize support within essential areas of the institution; and embrace the effort with conviction and commitment.”
Harris also was recognized for the longest consecutive donor streak nationally with 20 “donors before a non-donor.” Of the 10 hospitals that were recognized for streaks greater than 10 donors, four were in the LifeGift service area. There are a total of 49 OPOs involved in the collaborative.
The meeting also explored what now is the focus of the ongoing collaborative effort – increasing the number of organs recovered from each donor in order to save even more lives. Currently, the national average is 3.1 organs per donor. Leaders now are encouraging hospitals to commit to yielding at least 3.75 per donor.
Finally, the hospital and OPO participants were most excited when Collaborative Co-Chair Dr. John Chessare asserted that the elimination of individuals dying on the national waiting list is a realistic goal.
“What it will take is a commitment by all teams to reach their 75 percent conversion rate and achieve a four organ per donor yield.” This would equal 36,000 more organs recovered every year.