GCH earns recognition for efforts in raising awareness for organ donation


GRAFTON—Grafton City Hospital (GCH) is a health care facility that prides itself not only on top-notch service but on the education of its staff and the community it serves. Because of the drive to ensure that knowledge is spread around, they have recently been recognized.

Each year, Donate Life, a Center for Organ Replacement & Education (CORE) program, hosts a contest challenging hospitals across the state to ramp up their donation awareness efforts through their annual Donate Life West Virginia Hospital Challenge. 

At the end of the competition, the organization recognizes hospitals who have gone above and beyond in their measures to educate folks about organ donation.

And because of GCH’s efforts, this year, they were awarded the Silver Award during the 2021 Donate Life West Virginia Hospital Challenge.

“I, personally, am a pretty big advocate for organ donation, so I’m just thrilled to death that we have such a great relationship with CORE,” said Kevin Gessler, GCH Chief Administrative Officer. “I think they’re very happy to be our partners and we’re, of course, very happy to partner with them as well. And this award just goes to show how committed GCH is with our organ donation awareness efforts.”

According to Violet Shaw, Senior Director, Patient Care Services at GCH, the contest awards points for certain areas of education.

“There are different levels. Basically, what happens is a hospital will get so many points for educating their staff, and if they work to educate the public, they will receive additional points,” she explained.

Additionally, points are awarded to entities who host seminars or carry out public outreach or teaching. 

“All these different things add up, and that’s how we were able to obtain the silver level,” Shaw voiced.

And because she herself is an advocate for organ donation, Shaw said she was very pleased that the hospital had been honored with the award.

“I think this is just awesome,” exclaimed Shaw. “In this area, especially, there is a stigma around organ donation that it is going to deface their loved one or that it’s invasive. But I’ve had friends who have been donors and CORE does an amazing job.”

Education goes a long way in a small community to help dispel certain myths or misconceptions about organ donation, and because GCH works to enlighten residents on the practice, the hospital has seen individuals help save lives by opting to become organ, eye, tissue marrow and blood donors.

Jeremy Zeiders, Professional Service Liaison/Donor Family Supports Coordinator for CORE revealed that last year, Grafton City Hospital was able to recover two corneas, that gave sight to two individuals and help to provide 75 tissues recipients world-wide with the chance at a better life.

The organization was able to complete 792 life-saving organ transplants, an increase of approximately 20 percent over their 2019 numbers, which was also a record setting year for CORE, according to Zeiders.

CORE reports that there are 112,000 people waiting for an organ transplant, nationally, and every ten minutes someone new is added to the list. Within their service area, CORE reports approximately 2,600 people are in need of a transplant.

Additionally, 250,000 individuals are in need of tissue and corneal transplants each day. And unfortunately, 20 people will die each day waiting on that life-saving transplant.

Through organ donation, a person can potentially save eight individuals, and can heal approximately 75 others through tissue donation. Donors can give their kidneys, pancreas, liver, lungs, heart, tissue and corneas, in addition to other organs.

“Last year, CORE recovered nearly 800 corneas, giving sight to just as many individuals,” Zeider disclosed. “And we restored the health and mobility of up to 90,000 tissue recipients worldwide. Please note that last year, there were eight tissue recoveries that occurred at Grafton City Hospital, allowing up to 600 of those tissue recipients to be helped.”

Grafton City Hospital began working with CORE in April of last year, with the first recovery effort taking place in May.

“Grafton serves as a tissue recovery center, a regional one. Tissue recovery has a 24-hour time frame, and our recovery staff is located in Pittsburgh,” Zeider explained. “So, Grafton has become our meet-in-the-middle spot and receives patients from areas like the southern part of the state, and then efforts are coordinated to ensure prompt recovery of the tissue.”

He noted that every type of tissue recovery has been performed at Grafton City Hospital, including, bone, heart valves and corneas. 

There are two options in West Virginia for those who make the decision to save the lives of others by donating organs: they can opt to have the designation put on their driver’s license or state issued identification card, or by signing up anytime online at www.core.org/register.

To find out more about donating life, visit www.core.org or call 1-800-DONORS-7.

© 2021-Mountain Statesman

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