May 21, 2024

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Ochsner Rush, MORA encourage residents to consider organ donation | News

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Ochsner Rush Health and the Mississippi Organ Recovery Agency are marking April as National Donate Life month by encouraging residents to consider signing up to be organ donors.

At a flag raising ceremony Thursday, Ochsner Rush ICU and Pulmonary Physician Asad Kahn said becoming a donor is a small act that can make a huge difference. More than 100,000 people in the United States are waiting on organ transplant lists, he said, and a new patient is added to the list every ten minutes.

“As an ICU physician, I have seen the power of organ donation first hand,” he said. “I have witnessed the transformative impact it can have on both recipients and donor families. I have seen tears of joy and gratitude from families who have received the ultimate gift of life from a generous donor. I have also seen the heartbreak of families who have lost a loved one because they did not receive an organ in time.”

Each organ donor can provide up to eight patients with the transplant organs they need to stay alive, Kahn said, and one organ, eye and tissue donor can save or improve the quality of life for up to 75 patients.

“Your decision could be the miracle that someone is desperately waiting for,” he said.

Kathryn Skelton, who works as a nurse at Baptist Anderson Regional Medical Center, is one of those patients who received a donor organ. Skelton was diagnosed with kidney failure and began dialysis treatment shortly before the COVID-19 pandemic hit in early 2020.

Working in healthcare as the pandemic overwhelmed medical facilities and shuttered public services, Skelton said she continued to work, even as her symptoms became worse.

“I got to the point where I couldn’t pick up my grandchildren. I got neuropathy to the point where I could barely feel half my legs. It started affecting my hands,” she said. “The biggest thing that bothered me was I couldn’t feel my husband’s hand, and I couldn’t feel my grandchildren’s face.”

Skelton received a donor kidney after being on the transplant list for around three weeks, which was very fast, she said, and her symptoms, which had progressed to shakiness, moments of blacking out and full-body rashes, cleared up almost immediately.

“Within 24 hours, all that was gone, and I got my life back,” she said.

Skelton said her donor gave her much more than a kidney. They gave her the ability to play with her grandchildren again and to feel her husband hold her hand.

“They gave me my life back,” she said.

MORA Family Care Specialist Lanee Campbell said Donate Life Month is a time to remember the donors and the impact their gifts have made in the lives of others and celebrate the recipients who are here because of organ and tissue donation.

Campbell said her challenge to all in the community is to register as organ and tissue donors and encourage their family and friends to sign up as well.

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