By MultiCare Health System
April is National Donate Life Month, and MultiCare Auburn Medical Center is one of several MultiCare facilities that will fly a flag throughout the month to honor organ, eye and tissue donors.
Staff gathered to raise the flag with a ceremony April 1, but Auburn Medical Center’s support is more than symbolic: at the ceremony the hospital was also recognized for its work in organ donations with the presentation of the LifeCenter Northwest Collaboration Achievement Award for 2018. LifeCenter Northwest is the federally designated organization for the facilitation of organ, eye and tissue donations across the Northwest and Alaska.
Rose Atkins, an Auburn ICU nurse of 42 years, has seen the positive impact that organ donation can have in helping loved ones heal.
“Sometimes this is a way for a family to leave a tragedy with something good. Out of this horrible situation something good happened, and my loved one’s passing has left something behind that changes the lives of other people,” Atkins said.
She notes that clinical staff do not directly approach patients or family members about organ donations and commends the partners who play a role in the process of caring for patients and family members during these most difficult times.
“You have to be able to read what’s right for the family and support their decision. We get so much help from our partners to let families know how valuable this decision is and how much this gift is appreciated,” she said, adding that LifeCenter Northwest advocates play a critical and compassionate role in working directly with the families.
She also commends the role that hospital chaplains and social workers play throughout the care.
“They are right there and their number-one job is to take care of those families,” she said.
MultiCare Good Samaritan Hospital in Puyallup also received the Collaboration Achievement Award for 2018. This recognizes hospital collaboration on conversations about organ donation with families, ensuring the best possible family experience as well as reaching or exceeding a 90 percent collaboration rate with organ donation cases. Good Samaritan and Auburn Medical Center are two out of only 25 hospitals to receive the award.
According to LifeCenter Northwest, there are nearly 2,400 people in the Northwest on the transplant waiting list. One organ donor can donate up to eight critical organs, but across the nation nearly 20 people still die each day awaiting transplants. In January, more than 113,000 people remained on the national transplant waiting list.
In terms of donations, Washington has the third-highest rate in the nation for registered organ donors at 89 percent. The national average is approximately 58 percent. Even a strong registration rate such as Washington’s is complicated by the fact that only three in 1,000 registered donors pass away in a manner that allows for organ donation.
Tonya Azar, LifeCenter Northwest hospital development program manager, says that on average, one tissue donor can affect the lives of up to 125 people.
“The selfless gifts from these donors and from the families creates a ripple that goes out to the entire community,” she said. “The donor family is affected, the recipient family is affected. Everyone is gaining some degree of hope and solace from these gifts that are given. It truly is life-changing.
“The need is great, and it’s a tremendous honor to be at a hospital where we have people who care about the families during a time of great emotional need, and to do our part in this vital process,” said Mark Smith, president and COO of MultiCare Auburn Medical Center and MultiCare Covington Medical Center.
See the list of 2018 MultiCare LCNW award recipients at multicare.org.
Register to be an organ, eye and tissue donor at lcnw.org.