Sunday, July 08, 2001

Donations decline 36% from last year

By Tim Bonfield
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        So far this year, the number of organ donors in Greater Cincinnati is down about 36 percent compared with last year. But officials at LifeCenter say they aren't sure why.

        Through June, LifeCenter — the agency that manages organ donations in the Tristate — reports that 15 people have become organ donors this year.

        If that pace continues for the rest of the year, the total would be 30 donors, compared with 47 last year, said LifeCenter spokesman Mark Sommerville.

        Several factors appear to have combined to reduce organ donations in the first half of the year. However, there is no indication that those situations will continue for the rest of the year, Mr. Sommerville said.

        For example, there were no potential donors reported by area hospitals during March. Potential donors are people whose hearts and lungs are maintained with life support machines but are about to be declared brain-dead.

        With more than 80 potential donors reported per year, it is unusual for a month to pass in Greater Cincinnati without a brain-death case, Mr. Sommerville said.

        Meanwhile, in May, six of seven families that were approached refused to give consent to organ donation. Since 1999, the overall consent rate is above 50 percent.

        In addition, several patients who were considered potential organ donors this year were rejected later for medical reasons, such as having organs affected by disease or too much injury damage.

        “We are down this year, but most of it seems to be bad luck,” Mr. Sommerville said.


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