Donation of Life: Transplant Coordinator Explains Organ Donation Process for Families and Recipients

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PHILADELPHIA (WPVI) – It takes dozens of people to perform a transplant. The transplant coordinator is crucial, working for both the donor’s family and the recipients.

“You meet people at a time they never expected, and possibly, quite possibly, one of the most difficult times of their lives,” said Kimberlee Mander, Transplant Coordinator for the Donation Program. gift of life.

Mander has counseled hundreds of families through the difficult decision to donate or make the donor’s wishes come true.

First, she explains the process.

“When they see the movies, it happens in 5 minutes. It doesn’t really happen in 5 minutes,” Mander said.

Indeed, there are many steps: the blood type, height, weight and medical history of each donor are recorded in the national correspondence computer, creating a unique profile and lists of possible recipients – including backups. .

“We can have a list of heart recipients, a list of lung recipients, a list of renal recipients, pancreatic recipients,” she said.

They follow strict national attribution rules.

“This list is by disease severity and then by distance,” Mander said.

“If an organ finds a home in a local area, that’s where it’s going to stay. If nobody wants it locally, then it goes to the regional, and if no one wants it to the regional level, then it goes. to national circles, ”adds Dr. Michael Moritz, head of transplant services at Lehigh Valley Health.

With 5,000 people waiting for organs at 15 transplant centers in the region, there is a good chance for a local match.

Mander, a former intensive care nurse, also monitors organ recovery in the operating room.

“To preserve the organs to make sure we are able to help the most people,” Mander says.

Tissues such as skin, corneas or bones are also recovered afterwards.

Mander also stays in contact with the donor’s family throughout the process. This usually means more than 24 hours without sleep.

“The Transplant Coordinator is kind of the unsung hero of the donation and transplant process,” said Rick Hasz, vice president of clinical services at Gift of Life.

“We know the work we do is going to make a difference,” Mander said.

“In July alone, we had 78 organ donors, resulting in 204 organ transplants,” said Howard Nathan, President and CEO of Gift of Life.

It’s a national record.

Mander has personally seen the fruits of the transplant. A family member received new corneas 20 years ago, which allowed him to continue teaching.

For more information on the Gift of Life program, visit: https://www.donors1.org/

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