Categorized | Health

Kona Community Hospital recognized for organ donation rates


The staff at Kona Community Hospital will be recognized on Tuesday, January 25, 2011, for reaching an 83% rate of organ donation, known in the industry as ‘conversion rate’, from 2006 through 2010. ‘Conversion rate’ refers to when someone who suitable for donation is converted into an actual organ and/or tissue donor. Kona Community Hospital converted six out of their seven eligible donors during this time period.

Legacy of Life Hawai’i has chosen to give Kona Community Hospital the Organ Donation Medal of Honor to display that a community hospital can indeed perform with excellence in organ donation. The hospital has become the standard bearer for donation among small community hospitals.

In 2003, a 75% conversion rate was considered next to impossible in the organ & tissue donation industry, with most hospitals performing at an average conversion rate of 42%. Former Secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services, Tommy Thompson, saw room for improvement, and in an effort to increase donation rates challenged the donation community to raise the organ donation norm to a 75% average in hospitals across the nation.

Hawaii hospitals have risen to the challenge. Maui Memorial Hospital was the first hospital to receive the award and continues to be a leader in donation rates. Maui Memorial Hospital received the Organ Donation Medal of Honor consecutively from 2005 through 2007 and has qualified for it again in 2010. Queens Medical Center received the award in 2009 as did Straub Clinic & Hospital.

“The importance of conversion means everything to those on the transplant waiting list,” says Albert Newmann, Hospital Services Director at Legacy of Life Hawaii. “Patients who are eligible to be organ donors are a rare occurrence. Of the 5,000 – 6,000 deaths that occur in Hawaii’s critical care hospitals, only about 60 are eligible to donate, which is why “Conversion” of the few eligible donors is critical to those who are waiting for life-saving organ transplants. Otherwise, their only option is to remain on dialysis (those waiting for kidneys) or die. The high conversion rate at Kona Community Hospital is an indicator of the health of the donation process in the hospital.”

Newmann also comments, “Our experience with the staff at Kona Community Hospital has been one of excellent collaboration. This allows open communication in real time during a case, which can be very complex and emotionally stressful. The result has been excellent outcomes with families who feel they’ve been well-cared for in a time of deep tragedy. There’s a close correlation between family satisfaction with the hospital process and high donor rates.”

Albert Newmann along with Stephen A. Kula, Executive Director of Legacy of Life Hawai‘i, will attend the event at Kona Community Hospital on Tuesday morning at 7:30am. Several family members of those who donated as well as transplant recipients will also attend and share their stories of how donation has touched their lives.

Currently there are over 400 people in Hawaii waiting for life-saving organ transplants. Unfortunately due to the ever-widening gap between organs needed and available organs, 16 people died last year waiting for organs that never came.

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