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Facts About Organ Donation

Thu, 03/01/2018 (All day) - Sun, 03/11/2018 (All day)

Facts About Organ Donation
In the February 2018 issue of St. Matthias In Action, the article “Counselor Gives the Gift of Life” explains how St. Matthias School Counselor, Lauren Mortenson, donated a kidney. Parishioner Kathleen Foley is transplant coordinator at the Saint Barnabas Medical Center Renal and Pancreas Transplant Division. She very kindly shared the following information:
“Thank you for this opportunity to share some information about the need for kidney donation. Because almost 100,000 people are waiting for a kidney transplant in the United States, kidney donation is considered the ‘gift of life.’ The kidneys play such a key role in the body that kidney failure leads to serious health issues and requires a person to be on dialysis to live. Therefore, kidney donation and transplantation have an enormous impact on a person’s health and quality of life.
“There are many benefits to organ donation, but it is first important to know that kidneys for donation come from deceased donors and living donors. Deceased donation is likely the type of donation most people think of when talking about the subject. A family, during their time of grief when their loved one has been declared brain dead, agrees to donate their loved one’s organs, saving up to 8 lives. Organs are donated to the waitlist in an ethical and fair distribution. It is a tremendously difficult time that the family turns into a gift to save lives. We know in many cases this will bring families comfort, knowing good came from such a tragic loss. The families of the transplant recipients often ask to meet and thank the donor families.
“Kidneys for donation also come from living donors who come forward to donate to a family member, a friend, co-worker, or sometime anonymously to anyone in need. Living donors of course must be healthy and undergo medical and psychosocial education and evaluations by a physician, nurse, and social worker who specialize in this care. Kidneys are unique in that people have two but only need one to live safely. Donors must go through extensive education and testing, and it’s strongly encouraged they include their spouse or significant other in the process. Not everyone is cleared to be a kidney donor because it must be deemed safe for the person’s long-term health.
“The typical feedback we get from living donors is that they could no longer bare to watch someone they love suffer, or they want to have an impact and help someone after learning how great the need is. They can make a difference and decide to do so! Each donor comes forward for their own reason and therefore the emotional, psychological, spiritual benefits will be unique to that person. Our social workers will discuss a person’s reasons for wanting to donate and discuss their expectation for the donation. We want each donor to have an exceptional experience, but we want those expectations to be realistic – it will make for a better, healthier experience. Often having a loved one’s health restored returns a family to a lifestyle that was lost – a parent can participate again in the lives of their children, and spouses can return to work and contribute to the family. Most importantly, life can return to some ‘normalcy’, which is treasured after it is lost. Donors often tell us it is one of the best experiences of their lives and they want to stay involved and many do by participating with the New Jersey Sharing Network to help promote organ donation. Our team feels it is an honor to care for donors; they are very special people.
“As a nurse in the field of transplantation, I witness the positive impact of health restored every day. I encourage everyone to sign up to be an organ donor! I also encourage those interested in learning about living kidney donation to call their local transplant center. These can be found at: By helping another in need, you can’t even imagine the difference you will make! I am very lucky to have one the most rewarding jobs in the world!