LOS ANGELES--(BUSINESS WIRE)--More than 1,200 healthcare professionals gathered in Pomona yesterday to participate in the nation’s largest organ donation and transplantation symposium. Sponsored by OneLegacy, this eighth annual gathering was designed to share best practices on how to positively impact organ, eye and tissue donation activity at a time when more than 22,000 California residents are waiting to receive lifesaving hearts, livers, lungs, kidneys and other organs; but there are simply not enough donors to meet the need.
Among those attending the symposium was Rhonda Carew, the wife of baseball Hall of Famer and transplant recipient Rod Carew who in December 2016 received a heart and kidney transplant after suffering a massive heart attack the prior year. His donor was former NFL tight end Konrad Reuland, whose mother Mary was among the inspirational speakers at yesterday’s event. Rod Carew will be riding on the 2018 Donate Life Float at the Tournament of Roses Parade on January 1 and Konrad will be honored on the float through one of 44 floragraphs recognizing donors whose generous act gave others a second chance at life.
Attendees at the Pomona symposium included physicians, nurses, transplant center staff, pastoral care professionals, palliative care professionals, social workers and the executive leadership C-suite from many hospitals. Together they shared insights into caring for the donor and family, discussed the true team effort needed to achieve a successful donation, and explored the unique combination of technical competency and personal compassion required during the donation process.
Attendees also heard from a transplant recipient who shared the emotionally draining experience of being on a waiting list for a donation as well as from the chief medical officer of Mid-America Transplant Services who discussed how his renowned dedicated recovery facility has successfully embraced donor families, hospital partners and transplant centers to become an indispensable part of its community.
“Tragically 21 people die every day in the United States waiting for an organ transplant, and our nation’s hospitals play a critical role in facilitating a respectful dialogue on this topic,” said Prasad Garimella, chief operating officer of OneLegacy. “Organ and tissue donations are an incredible gift. A single organ donor can save the lives of up to eight people and improve the lives of as many as 75 more by donating their corneas and tissue. It is our hope that attendees left the symposium with new ideas on how to improve the donation process and renewed enthusiasm regarding the lifesaving roles that each and every one of us can play.”
Last year OneLegacy achieved a record-setting performance in lives saved with nearly 1,500 transplants from a record number of organ donors. Since 2000, OneLegacy has seen a 74 percent increase in lives saved by organ transplantation and a 300 percent increase in lives healed through tissue transplant.
OneLegacy is a nonprofit organization dedicated to saving lives through organ, eye and tissue donation in seven counties in Southern California: Los Angeles, Orange, Riverside, San Bernardino, Ventura, Santa Barbara and Kern. Serving more than 200 hospitals, 11 transplant centers, and a diverse population of nearly 20 million, OneLegacy is the largest organ, eye and tissue recovery organization in the world. For more information, call OneLegacy at 800-786-4077, or visit onelegacy.org.