University Hospital organ donation program receives national recognition

The hospital is the only one in mid-Missouri to receive a Medal of Honor.
Kelly DeLine, mother of donor Jacob DeLine, holds the Medal of Honor handed to her by Lori Kramer Clark, Midwest Transplant Network hospital services coordinator. University Hospital was awarded the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services' Medal of Honor for Organ Donation on Nov. 3.

University Hospital, for the fifth year straight, has received the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Medal of Honor for Organ Donation.

“This distinction is given annually to a select group of hospitals who achieve a high standard for organ donation consent rates,” said Lori Kramer Clark, Midwest Transplant Network hospital services coordinator.

More than 300 hospitals were awarded the 2010 Medal of Honor, each having achieved an organ donation consent rate at or above 75 percent within a 12-month period.

“What the federal government did was take all the transplant programs that agreed to participate, put them in a room and said, ‘Now talk to each other and find out what someone else is doing that you could borrow to make your own program better,’” Renal Transplant Director Mark Wakefield said.

Clark said University Hospital is the only hospital in mid-Missouri to have been honored as a Medal of Honor award winner, thanks in part to its organ donation and transplant teams. There are about 800 programs competing.

“We were successful this year,” Wakefield said.

Wakefield said University Hospital was recognized for its ability to move patients waiting for a kidney transplant off the list in a much shorter time period than the national average.

“And, while we are very proud of our accomplishments, we are reminded every day that the need for organ donation far outpaces the number of transplantable organs available,” Clark said.

Wakefield said MU has many student organizations designed to increase awareness about organ donation.

“There’s a lot of outreach programs,” Wakefield said.

Kramer said her job is to take care of University Hospital and its needs. As part of the Community Education department, a booth was set up Tuesday on campus and another was set up during the summer at the Sedalia State Fair —- all to help spread information in the community.

“We go to the Missouri Hospital Association every year and set up a booth there,” Kramer said. “That’s not necessarily the youthful crowd so to speak, but it is accessing a rural community.”

Another part of attempts to increase awareness include visits to all the Departments of Motor Vehicles within the next 12 to 18 months to make sure employees there are asking the right questions and to make sure they’re stocked with pamphlets and fliers they can distribute to the community.

Kramer said the question about organ donation is ultimately asked at the DMV.

“Ideally, what happens is everyone signs their drivers license card and that’s it,” Wakefield said. “A reasonable, but unachievable goal.”

The hospital held a news conference Thursday afternoon, where Clark, Wakefield and Kelly DeLine were present. DeLine’s son donated his organs after he died in 2002.

“We had never talked about organ donation,” DeLine said. ”I knew what my wishes were. I didn’t know what his were. Luckily, when he had renewed his drivers license, he had indicated that he wanted to be an organ donor.”

DeLine’s son’s heart was donated to a then 39-year-old man in St. Louis, who still calls DeLine every Mother’s Day. His kidney went to a 7-year-old girl who still e-mails her all the time, and his liver was donated to someone in New Mexico.

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