LifeNet promotes organ donation

Published 9:32 am Saturday, November 3, 2012



FRANKLIN—Three years ago when Charles Vincent of Franklin got his driver’s license, he ticked off the box asking whether he wanted to be listed as an organ donor.

“What am I going to do with them,” he said, referring to his heart, lungs and kidneys. “I can’t use them anymore when I’m dead. I like that they will have helped someone.”

The 19-year-old Forest Pine resident said this to Nancy Hurst when she was recently at Southampton Memorial Hospital.

Hurst is the community education coordinator for the transplant services division of LifeNet Health. In the lobby she set up a table of literature — and treats — to encourage passersby to consider signing up for organ donation if they hadn’t done so already.

“Most everyone was already signed up or took the information home to review with their families, and then go online to sign up,” said Hurst.

Dispelling myths about organ donation is a large part of her work.

Whether or not one’s religion allows it is one example she gave. To counteract this worry, Hurst will go to places of worship to educate its members. She mentioned that National Donor Sabbath takes place next weekend.

“‘Oh, I have had cancer,’” is another worry she hears. The concern being that disease prevents donation.

“You make the decision based on what your heart says,” said Hurst. “Let the physician decide after your death.”

Nationwide, there are 116,000-plus people waiting for a solid organ donation, she said. This includes the heart, lungs, kidneys, pancreas and intestines. Tissue donations are corneas, bones, skin and nerves.

In Virginia, over 2,600 people are waiting for solid organ donations.

Another misconception is what Hurst called “The coma myth,” which believes that doctors won’t spend a lot of effort on keeping patients alive if they’re donors.

In connection to this is that only the rich and famous in such need get their donations first.

She assures people that the United Network for Organs, based in Richmond, keeps the list. Numbers, not names, are used along with blood type, weight and height to match organs to recipients.

“If LifeNet gets a calls from a hospital, then we call UNOS, which looks for a potential donor match,” said Hurst.

She repeatedly urges donors to keep their loved ones informed of their decisions. This spares them the agony of wondering whether organ donation was a concern of the deceased.

Signing up is easy, though. As mentioned, when you get your driver’s license you can check the box asking if you want to be a donor. You can also go to LifeNet website.

For more information, contact Hurst at 609-4425 or or visit