116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
During the month of April, Mercy Medical Center joined organizations nationwide in recognizing National Donate Life Month, encouraging Americans to register as organ, eye and tissue donors and to celebrate those who have saved lives through the gift of donations. As a registered bone marrow donor, my resolve to raise awareness of this important issue has been heightened as one of our own employees waits for a kidney donation.
Those who register as donors offer hope to those who need organs or tissue transplants to live. Last year alone, according to the U.S. Health and Human Services Department, organ donors made more than 28,000 transplants possible. Another 1 million people received cornea and other tissue transplants that helped them recover from trauma, bone damage, spinal injuries, burns, hearing impairment and vision loss.
Unfortunately, thousands die each year waiting for a donor organ that never comes. We have the power to change that. Anyone, regardless of age or medical history, can sign up to be a donor.
The need to raise awareness and urge those who can to register as donors is something Mercy has long recognized. For more than 25 years Mercy Dialysis Center has provided critical treatment for those who need kidney dialysis. That care extends beyond dialysis, thanks to a unique partnership our Dialysis Center has established with the University of Iowa Organ Transplant Center.
This collaborative effort ensures first-rate care for patients moving from chronic kidney disease to dialysis to transplant.
The need for organ donors holds special meaning for us here at Mercy because one of our employees, Roxy Grady, Supervisor of Food and Nutrition Services, is in need of an organ donation. She has been on the waiting list for a kidney donation for four years.
Roxy's kidney function was at 100 percent until March 2008, when she was hospitalized with pneumonia of the blood and her kidney function dropped to 97 percent. The downward spiral had begun; more tests and ER visits led to the discovery that Roxy's kidney function had dropped to 30 percent.
That's when she began dialysis treatments. For three-and-a-half hours a day, three days a week, Roxy visits Mercy's Dialysis Center for dialysis to ensure her kidneys' continued function.
Roxy's Mercy team keeps her on track, she says, 'which is a tribute to all of them. It takes every single one of them to make it all go right. They are the ones who keep me alive.”
Dialysis is literally a lifesaver, but it's exhausting and leaves dialysis patients feeling weak. What a normal person's kidney function does on a daily basis is done through dialysis, pulling the blood from the patient's body to remove the waste, cleaning it and returning it. It takes a toll, Roxy says.
The treatment regimen and waiting are also hard on family members, Roxy says. When a recipient gets the call about a donation, they have one hour to get to UIHC. 'You can't go on family vacations. You can't go anywhere that's more than one hour away from Iowa City,” Roxy explains, 'because you just never know when you might get that call.”
One of the challenges we face in raising awareness of this issue is educating people to have regular health checkups and take preventive steps to safeguard their health.
Roxy explains it well:
'I want to stress to people the importance of taking care of yourself, especially if you have high blood pressure or diabetes because those conditions can easily turn into kidney failure,” she stresses. 'It can happen so fast. Many people are affected by high blood pressure or diabetes and don't realize it. That's what happened to me; I didn't know I had high blood pressure.”
As one person awaiting an organ donation, Roxy and her family encourage others to learn about organ donation and register as a donor 'so that more miracles can happen and possibly save someone else's life.”
To learn more and/or register as a donor, visit www.organdonor.gov
' Tim Charles is Mercy president and CEO. Comments: firstname.lastname@example.org