COLUMBIA, Mo. - University of Missouri Health Care will join Midwest Transplant Network and Heartland Eye Banks in promoting Donate Life Month with a donor health fair and donor dedication ceremony scheduled for noon Friday, April 17, in the main lobby of University Hospital.
Local organ donor families and recipients, along with health care professionals, are invited to attend the event. The health fair will feature informational booths about organ donation and provide an opportunity for guests to register for the Missouri Organ and Tissue Donor Registry. During the dedication ceremony, donor families will pin a butterfly in memory of their loved one in a special shadowbox that will be displayed in the main lobby of University Hospital.
"University Hospital and Midwest Transplant Network are partners in promoting the importance of organ donation, and through this partnership we operate a highly successful donor program," said Lori Kramer Clark, hospital services coordinator for Midwest Transplant Network. "This Donate Life Month event will allow donor families and recipients to meet and share their stories of how their lives were changed through donation and transplantation."
Nationwide, more than 100,000 people are currently awaiting a life-saving transplant. According to Kramer, a new name is added to the national transplant waiting list every 13 minutes.
"On average, 18 people die every day in the United States due to a lack of available organs for transplant, and there is a serious need for minority donors," said Kramer. "One donor can help save or improve the lives of as many as 50 people."
Missouri residents are encouraged to learn more about becoming a donor by visiting the Midwest Transplant Network's Web site at www.mwtn.org or www.hleb.org, for facts and information on donation and transplantation as well as the opportunity to sign up for the Missouri donor registry.
Midwest Transplant Network partners with University Hospital to provide organ donation services to the community. Using collaborative teams, they educate the public, analyze data and identify methods to consistently improve and maintain the donation services available to mid-Missourians.
As a result of this collaborative effort, University Hospital's donation rate increased from 53 percent in 2004 to more than 75 percent the past three years. These efforts were recognized three years in a row by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services when the federal agency presented Medals of Honor for Organ Donation to University Hospital. In 2008, University Hospital was one of 16 of Missouri's largest hospitals and the only hospital in mid-Missouri to receive the award.
Midwest Transplant Network is an organ procurement organization. Founded in 1973, its mission is to provide quality transplantation-related services that will maximize the availability of organs and tissues to the community. The not-for-profit corporation serves Kansas and the western two-thirds of Missouri.
Heartland Lions Eye Banks is a division of the Missouri Lions Eye Research Foundation, a not-for-profit corporation with the mission to preserve and restore sight. Based in Columbia, Mo., Heartland Lions Eye Banks operates throughout Missouri and in parts of Illinois and Kansas, providing tissue corneal transplants worldwide.
University Hospital and Clinics, a part of the University of Missouri Health Care system, serves patients from every county in Missouri. The 307-bed hospital specializes in treating the most severe illnesses and injuries, offering the only Level I trauma center in mid-Missouri, intensive care units and highly specialized medical and surgical services.