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University of Iowa News Release

April 15, 2004

UI Hospitals And Clinics Joins National Effort To Boost Organ Donations

University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics is helping to lead a national effort involving 103 U.S. hospitals to increase organ donation by joining with Secretary of Health and Human Services Tommy G. Thompson in the Organ Donation Breakthrough Collaborative.

The purpose of this new initiative is to save or enhance thousands of additional lives a year by spreading best practices to the nation's hospitals with the largest numbers of potential donors to achieve organ donation rates of 75 percent or higher in those hospitals.

American hospitals performed more than 26,000 transplants last year, but more than 83,000 people in the nation are currently waiting for an organ transplant. However, only 46 percent of an estimated 14,000 potential donors donated organs last year. As a result, an average of 17 patients waiting for a transplant die every day in the United States.

Achieving the Breakthrough Collaborative goal of an average donation rate of 75 percent in the country's largest hospitals would save or enhance thousands of lives each year. UI Hospitals and Clinics is strongly positioned with both a highly successful organ transplant program and a Level I Trauma Center to lead the way in meeting that target.

"We have both a challenge and an unique opportunity to help those who need transplants and those who become potential donors," said social worker Sue Witte. "Our hospital staff is committed to working closely with the Iowa Donor Network to improve the rate of donation here."

Most U.S. hospitals have organ donation rates between 30 and 50 percent, but some have rates as low as 5 percent. When the Collaborative began in September 2003, 60 percent of potential organ donors at UI Hospitals and Clinics resulted in donation of organs. In the past sixth months, with the hard work and commitment of the staff at UI Hospitals and Clinics and the Iowa Donor Network, the donation rate increased to 75 percent as of March 2004. Potential organ donors can help save the lives of as many as seven seriously ill patients on the waiting list and can enhance the lives of patients through donations of eyes, skin and bone tissue.

The goals for the Collaborative established by UI Hospitals and Clinics include increasing the rate of organ donation to 76 percent, obtaining medical examiner approval in 100 percent of cases and increasing organ donation after cardiac death cases.

"We are committed to achieving our goal and increasing our ability to save more lives. Our patients, their families and loved ones are depending on our success," Witte said.

UI Hospitals and Clinics is partnering with the Iowa Donor Network and Iowa Methodist Hospital in Des Moines on this important initiative. For more information please contact Witte at 319-356-2207.

University of Iowa Health Care describes the partnership between the UI Roy J. and Lucille A. Carver College of Medicine and UI Hospitals and Clinics and the patient care, medical education and research programs and services they provide. Visit UI Health Care online at

STORY SOURCE: Joint Office for Marketing and Communications, University of Iowa Health Care, 200 Hawkins Drive, Room E110 GH, Iowa City, Iowa 52242-1009

MEDIA CONTACT: Tom Moore, 319-356-3945,