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University of Iowa News Release

July 22, 2004

UI Hospitals and Clinics Exceeding Organ Donation Goal

The transplant program at University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics is exceeding the goals established by the organizers of a national project designed to improve the rate of organ donation.

The team at UI Hospitals and Clinics is helping to lead a national effort involving 200 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 the 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.

Out of the 200 hospitals participating in the initiative, only 12 hospitals are currently achieving the goal of a 75 percent donation rate. The current organ donation rate at UI Hospitals and Clinics is 87 percent.

"Our faculty and staff have risen to the challenge and increased our already historically high rate of donation," said Sue Witte, a social work specialist who helps coordinate the Organ Donation Breakthrough Collaborative effort at UI Hospitals and Clinics. "We could not be more proud of their commitment and dedication to helping patients receive this life-saving care."

The 12 hospitals that are meeting or exceeding the donation rate goal of 75 percent will share their best practices with other collaborative members to help them learn methods that can help them boost their own organ donation rates. Those hospitals include: UI Hospitals and Clinics; Brigham and Women's Hospital; St. Joseph's Medical Center; John Hopkins Hospital; University of Michigan Medical Center; Sharp Grossmont Medical Center; University of San Diego Medical Center; Maui Memorial Medical Center; Theda Clark Medical Center; LDS Hospital; San Joaquin General Hospital; and Quebec Transplant Network

American hospitals performed more than 26,000 transplants last year, but more than 86,000 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 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.

Most U.S. hospitals have organ donation rates between 30 and 50 percent, but some have rates as low as 5 percent. 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.

"We are committed to 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.

UI Hospitals and Clinics is the state's only academic medical center. 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,