Kansas Launches Online Organ Donor Registry

(WIBW) - Matthew Asher has spent two years keeping an eye on a dubious waiting list.

Matthew is waiting for a kidney transplant. He hopes to find a match by the end of the year.

And he's not alone.

Ginny Woods, RN, organ procurement coordinator at Topeka's Stormont-Vail HealthCare, says 108,000 are waiting nationally for an organ transplant, and the list is growing.

Woods was among those who led the fight to make Kansas a first-person consent state for organ donation. The change means the organ donor designation made on a drivers license or an online registry will be legally binding. Before, Woods said, family members made the final decision.

The law took effect July 1, and November 10, the Midwest Transplant Network's online registry went live. It will be linked with drivers license records so a person can declare when they renew. But if that's still years away, a person may log on to www.donatelifekansas.com to sign up.

Having a loved one in a position to give is difficult enough and Woods says the registry can make it a little easier. She says families won't have to wonder what their loved ones might have wanted if they didn't have that conversation earlier.

With one person able to help up to 50 others with their organs and tissues, their loved one truly will live on. Woods says16 people die every day waiting, and she believes there's no need for that.

As someone who could benefit, Matthew admits it can be difficult someone must die so you can live, and it makes him appreciate what a great gift a family can give.

Honors for Woods, Stormont
Woods recently was honored with the Nursing - Heart of Healthcare award from KU School of Nursing.

Woods has worked in Critical Care for 34 years and in 1982, began coordinating the Organ Donation Program. A year later she helped with the first multiple organ donation and since then, there have been approximately 200 organ donors and hundreds of tissue donors from Stormont-Vail. Woods is also involved in community donor awareness activities and with a colleague created a local support group, the Topeka Organ Transplant Organization 25 years ago. Members of the organization include transplant recipients, those awaiting transplant and occasionally donor families.

In addition, Stormont's efforts in organ donation earned a Silver Medal of Honor from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. It's the sixth consecutive year Stormont earned the designation.

The Silver Medal of Honor recognizes hospitals across the country that reach at least a 75 percent organ donation rate from eligible donor families in a consecutive twelve-month period. Stormont-Vail was the only Topeka hospital recognized.

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