On Your Health

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The Impact of Organ Donation

by Dr. David Nelson, chief of heart transplant at INTEGRIS Nazih Zuhdi Transplant Institute

April is National Donate Life Month, an effort to bring attention to the importance of organ donation. Being an organ donor, you have an opportunity to impact, and in many cases save, multiple lives. Dr. David Nelson, chief of heart transplant at the INTEGRIS Nazih Zuhdi Transplant Institute, discusses how many lives have been touched by organ donations in Oklahoma.
 Hi, my name's Dave Nelson. I'm the chief of the heart transplant medicine division at INTEGRIS Baptist Medical Center in Oklahoma City. This is Organ Donation Awareness Month and this is a great opportunity for everyone to talk to their loved ones about organ donation. Our heart transplant program has benefitted greatly from organ donation in 2014. We did 30 heart transplants in 2014, and that's an enormous number for Oklahoma. By as a comparison, Columbia Medical Center in New York with a population base of 20 million, did 55 hearts last year. We did 30 hearts with a population base of 1.2 million. This is really due to the generosity of Oklahomans and their willingness to donate organs. Organ donation has been shown in studies to provide enormous benefit to grieving families and obviously it provides an incredible benefit to the organ recipients. For every donor, there's the opportunity to give life to a heart recipient, two lung recipients, two kidney recipients and a liver recipient, as well as multiple potential recipients for tissue and eyes. So we're extremely grateful and the patients and the patient's families that have been served by these donors in 2014 are also extremely grateful. These organs have gone to great use and the heart transplant program last year had a 97 percent one-year survival rate. The national survival rate was 90 percent. We always view our care of these organs as not only caring for the recipients, but also honoring the donor and their generous donation.

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