Pocahontas Memorial Hospital Raises a Flag for Organ Donors
On Wednesday, April 12th, a small group gathered in front of the main entrance to Pocahontas Memorial Hospital or PMH to watch a Donate Life Flag being raised up just below the U.S. Flag. With that simple symbolic act of raising a flag to honor all those affected by organ donation, Pocahontas Memorial Hospital proclaimed April as National Donate Life Month.
To learn more about this and organ donation in general, we interviewed to one of the organizers of this event.
Ca n you tell me who you are and about your organization?
“My name is Christy Conley; I am the Community Outreach Coordinator for CORE. The Center for Organ Recovery and Organization” said Conley. “And what I do is basically travel across the State and educate people about the importance of organ, tissue and cornea donation. CORE’s mission is to promote and educate about donation, and our vision is that all potential donors will make a pledge for life.”
We asked Christy about the flag raising ceremony that had just happened here at PMH.
“Pocahontas Memorial Hospital is participating in the Donate Life West Virginia Hospital Challenge” Christy explained. “That is an event or opportunity for hospitals to bring awareness and to help facilitate the culture of donation within their facility. And, along with that challenge, we encourage hospitals across the state to raise a Donate Life Flag to honor those who were giving the gift of life, so were donors and then also celebrating recipients, those who received a second chance. So it’s an opportunity to do that and help the community see what good this small hospital is doing in their community to help save lives.”
Christy tells us more about the Hospital Challenge.
“We cover fifty-five hospitals in the State of West Virginia” said Christy. “Two years ago we had eight hospitals that participated in this challenge and in flag raisings. And then we took last year and we moved it up to twenty-four hospitals, and this year we are over 30 hospitals. So our goal is to get all fifty-five hospitals to take the challenge and do a flag raising. The nature of the challenge really is awareness. What happens is the hospital will do certain awareness activities or educational opportunities and they get points. Those points add up and then at the end of the year we recognize the hospitals at the level they reach during the challenge. ”
Christy points out that their efforts seem to be paying off with about a 5% increase in donations last year over 2015, but a lot more needs to be done. According to Christy, in the U.S. there are about one hundred seventeen thousand people on the waiting list for organs, and twenty-two people on that list die every day because there was no available organ for them. She says that one donor’s organs can save eight lives, and that does not include the eyesight saved by the donations of the corneas or the benefits to other people because of tissue donations.
Christy talks about misinformation that is out there about organ donation.
“There are a lot of myths out there about organ donations” Christy says. “Some people feel like if they put it on their driver’s license they are not going to be saved if they are in an accident, which is untrue. Obviously your medical providers are sworn to save lives. They don’t actually know you are an organ donor until you are at the end of life. If you put that on your driver’s license, that is a declaration to your family to say ‘this is one of my final wishes.’ If you’re not a designated organ donor, Federal law requires that we still contact each and every family of an individual that can be a potential donor, and then we have to ask those really difficult questions. We would really prefer that people make those decisions while they are living and able to make them.”