The Nurses Role in Organ Donation

Notes from the Nurses' Station | Jennifer Olin, BSN, RN

A team of nurses at a New York hospital has taken it upon themselves to improve the organ donation process at their facility and to increase the number of donors in their region. Overall, 2.7 million New Yorkers are registered organ donors, which works out to about 18 percent of the potential donors in the state. While this might sound pretty good, it is actually well below the national average of 42 percent.

Nine intensive care unit (ICU) nurses at Albany Medical Center, the region’ trauma center and largest source of organ donors have banded together to improve those numbers. Through a program of support and education they are guiding donors families through what is, without a doubt, a difficult, heart wrenching process.

They volunteer to stay with the patients and to help the families understand the donation process, which includes keeping the brain dead patient’s body functioning until the organs can be collected. "We try to make it so everybody has said their goodbyes and has no regrets," said Joshua Malone, a nurse in the medical ICU.

This effort is all part of a statewide drive to increase the number of organ donors. Across the United States, 113, 841 people are waiting for an organ transplant—10, 000 of those waiting live in New York State.

As reported last week, officials from New York’s Department of Health (DOH) and from the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) announced that New Yorkers can now register as organ donors on the DMV website. Since 95 percent of all donors register through the DMV, officials are hoping this new system will increase participation.