Photo: From left are Karen Gans, RN, transplant coordinator; Maritza Torres-Quinones, RN, transplant coordinator; and Julie Mirkin, RN, vice president for operations, who stand in front of one of the many quilts at the ODN. Each donor family is offered the opportunity to design a quilt square in memory of their loved one who became an organ donor. There is an annual Donor Recognition Ceremony in which the families "pin" their square to a quilt, and around the perimeter of the quilt are the embroidered names of the recipients.(Photos by Janice Petrella Lynch, RN)
According to the New York Organ Donor Network, a nonprofit, federally designated organ procurement organization, every 10 minutes a name is added to the national waiting list and every two-and-a-half hours someone is added to the New York waiting list. Despite this need, only 18% of New York’s population is registered as an organ donor, compared to 43% nationwide.
The metropolitan area has about 60,000 deaths annually and only 1% to 1.5% are potential organ donors, reports the NYODN. What some healthcare professionals also don’t know is the donor’s organs, such as the lungs, heart, kidneys and liver, must be brought back to life.
"Our job is to manage the donor and improve organ functioning with the goal of offering the best working organs so the recipient gets the best quality of life," said Julie Mirkin, RN, MA, vice president of operations at NYODN. "The ultimate goal is to maximize the donor’s organ functioning and reverse injury to the lungs, heart, kidneys and liver. We use donor management goals and standards of practice for donor management, which actually are consistent with the goals for managing non-brain dead critical care patients."
In donor management, the NYODN transplant coordinators and hospital staff work together to treat any donor medical conditions, whether it be acidosis, hypotension, hypothermia or hypoxemia, using specific clinical pathways for the care of potential organ donors.