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Tuesday, September 15, 2020 - 10:30am

Deborah Hunt, Ph.D., RN, associate dean and professor of nursing, has co-authored a paper describing how nurses play a significant role in successful organ donation. The article appeared in the August issue of American Nurse Journal.

“As a nurse I’ve always been an advocate of organ transplant. All hospitals have an obligation to facilitate organ donation and to identify potential donors. Yet there remains a stigma around transplant and donation,” said Hunt, a prolific writer and a Fellow of the New York Academy of Medicine. “My colleague, Scott Murphy, is an organ donor coordinator for a nonprofit, LiveOnNY. He has witnessed firsthand the great need for more organs, as well as the life-affirming experiences of both the organ donors and the recipients and their families. It was a story that needed to be told.”

She pointed out that all hospitals have an obligation to facilitate organ donation and to identify potential donors. Nurses play a key role in the process, especially if they work in a critical care unit. Nurses are often the first to be aware of the status of a patient as a potential organ donor, and to advocate as appropriate.

The demand for organs far outweighs the supply, the authors claim, and the statistics are alarming. “Every year about 8,000 people — men, women and children — die waiting for a transplant,” Hunt said. “Yet a single organ donor can impact the lives of up to eight patients, and a single tissue donation can help hundreds.” The scarcity of donor organs is sometimes the result of misconceptions about organ donation, such as believing one’s age or medical condition alone is enough to disqualify one as a candidate.

The subject of organ donation is currently taught in nursing school, and Hunt said that would continue: “As we evaluate the educational content that’s crucial for today’s nursing students, learning how to be an informed advocate of organ donation will be a vital component of their education.”