RUSH and Gift of Hope Organ & Tissue Donor Network announced they will establish Illinois’ first hospital-based donor care center — a world-class intensive care and surgical unit for deceased organ donors, staffed with leading clinicians and allied multidisciplinary services to optimize the impact of every organ donation and save more lives.
Donor care centers are dedicated facilities for optimizing donor management and the surgical recovery of life-saving organs for transplant. Donor care centers have emerged as a national best practice to better serve donors and their families, increase the availability of organs for transplant and offer improved transplant outcomes.
Deceased donors are transferred from hospitals across Gift of Hope’s donation service area (Illinois and northwest Indiana) to the donor care center for specialized, time-sensitive clinical management that optimizes each donor’s gifts. Transferring hospitals can better utilize their ICU beds, operating rooms, ventilators and critical care staff to care for other patients. For families of donors, the 24/7 availability of a dedicated donor care center expedites the donation process and the ability to proceed with arrangements following a loved one’s loss and life-giving donation.
The location of organ recovery does not change the strict process for placing donated organs with potential recipients on the organ transplant list most in need, based on the nation’s allocation system and policies.
Scheduled to open in July 2024, the Gift of Hope Organ Donor Care Center at RUSH will include six intensive care bays, two operating rooms, and 24/7 medical and allied services dedicated to donor management and recovery. A family lounge and support services will provide a comfortable and caring experience for donors’ families.
Close collaboration with area hospitals will ensure seamless operations transferring deceased donors to the Gift of Hope Organ Donor Care Center at RUSH for organ recovery surgery. This will allow transferring hospitals to use their ICU beds, operating rooms, ventilators and critical care staff to care for other patients — while the donation process is managed by specialized clinicians and allied teams at the organ donor care center.
“The Gift of Hope Organ Donor Care Center at RUSH will ensure that Illinois and northwest Indiana continue to innovate and optimize the decision of every individual to donate and save lives,” said Harry Wilkins, MD, Gift of Hope president and CEO. “We are proud to partner with RUSH on establishing the Midwest’s first hospital-based donor care center, in collaboration with all of the hospitals in our region to increase donation that offers a second chance at life for the more than 103,000 people waiting desperately for life-saving transplants.”
“RUSH is proud to work with Gift of Hope in serving our region’s families, hospitals and patients through the Gift of Hope Organ Donor Care Center at RUSH — building on our long-standing work together and our priority on increasing organ and tissue donation and advancing equitable access to transplantation regionally and nationally,” said Dr. Omar Lateef, RUSH president and CEO.
Gift of Hope is one of the 56 organ procurement organizations that make up the nation’s organ donation system. It is one of only three such organizations in the U.S. to work with more than 500 donors and their families in a single year. The not-for-profit organization, which works with 180 hospitals and serves 12 million people in its service area, has recovered more than 30,000 organs since its inception in 1986.
More than 7 million Illinois residents have registered their decisions to become donors in the Illinois Organ/Tissue Donor Registry. Fewer than 3% of all individuals who die are medically eligible to donate at the time of their death, making every registered decision critical in the authorization and time-sensitive donation process when donation is a possibility.
To learn more about organ and tissue donation and to register to be a donor, visit giftofhope.org. The site has links to the Illinois and Indiana registries, as well as links for residents of other states.