Blog | Sunday, May 8, 2011

Pay it forward with organ donations

With all of the news focus on Osama Bin Laden's death and memories of 9/11, it is time for a feel-good story. We have one complements of Loyola University Medical Center in Illinois. A total of seven kidneys have been donated by perfect strangers and five of them were from hospital employees. Loyola has set up a "Pay It Forward" program to inspire others to do the same. When a person gets a Good Samaritan kidney, it is hoped that a relative or friend who was not a match for that person will donate to someone else. The new relative continues the chain by donating to yet another stranger.

Since the program started last year, 18 donors have contributed to 95 organ transplants through the National Kidney Registry. Of all needed organs, kidneys are most in demand and every year thousands of Americans die while waiting for one. Stranger donations are relatively rare.

The first altruistic donation was made by Dr. Susan Hou, the medical director of the renal transplant program. She was the first U.S. physician to donate a kidney to a patient. Her administrative secretary followed by donating to a 34-year-old man. That allowed him to get off dialysis return to a normal life with his young children. Following that was the credentialing coordinator who donated a kidney, and then a registered nurse who also donated to a stranger. Not to be outdone, the administrative director of the Graduate Medical Education Program and the manager of the clinical lab also donated kidneys as an act of giving and life.

I would say that is an organization with a culture of community service!!!

This post originally appeared at Everything Health. Toni Brayer, FACP, is an ACP Internist editorial board member who blogs at EverythingHealth, designed to address the rapid changes in science, medicine, health and healing in the 21st Century.