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Ceremony puts focus on organ donation

April 09, 2010|By ANDREW SCHOTZ

HAGERSTOWN -- Families and Washington County Hospital staff gathered Friday to reaffirm their commitment to organ donation.

A few spoke in the lobby at Washington County Hospital. Then, the group went outside to raise a "Donate Life" flag.

April is National Donate Life Month.

Christie Wilson of Hagerstown recalled that when her brother, Shawn Baker, died in 2006 at age 35, seven of his organs were given to people who needed them.

She said her brother was a giving person.

She has kept in touch with the woman who received Baker's right kidney. The recipient is a sweet homemaker who is planning a trip to Hawaii, she said.

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"Something sad and tragic can have something wonderful come out of it," Wilson said.

About 107,000 people nationwide and about 2,000 in Maryland are on organ waiting lists, said Debbie Williams, the chief operations officer for The Living Legacy Foundation of Maryland, a nonprofit group that helps in the donation process.

Washington County Hospital is the only hospital in Maryland to receive, five years in a row, a federal honor for meeting certain organ donation benchmarks.

Brett Kane, the hospital's clinical manager of critical care, said there were 10 organ donations there from 2007-09.

There was a near miss a few weeks ago, he said. A family consented, but the transfer couldn't be done.

"We will continue to be an advocate," said Dr. Marc Kross, the hospital's chief of staff and chief of trauma services.

So is the Rev. Michael Hydes, a staff chaplain at the hospital. He said his relatives have donated and received organs.

Laura Rye, a hospital service coordinator for The Living Legacy Foundation of Maryland, visits Washington County Hospital about once a week and talks to the staff about organ donation.

"You've embraced donation," Williams said. "You've ingrained it in your culture."

Wilson said the hospital and the foundation were respectful to her family after her brother died and the family had a choice to make.

"Everyone was so kind," she said. "No one was pushy. Everyone gave us time to think."

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