Editorial: Hoosiers lead the way in donations and transplants

March 1, 2024

Kellie Tremain - CEO


Hoosiers lead the way in donations and transplants

By Fort Wayne Journal Gazette


March 1, 2024 – Last year, Indiana set yet another record of having 1,134 organ transplants, which saved 989 lives. One of those lives saved is unique for two reasons.

The recipient’s life is due to a 90-year-old donor – the oldest Hoosier on record to be an organ donor. The nonagenarian’s liver donation was coordinated by the Indiana Donor Network in a first-ever use of new technology to preserve and protect the donated organ. After recovery in Indiana, the liver was transported to the University of Cincinnati Medical Center.

Contrary to what you may believe, there is no maximum age to become a donor. Consider signing up for it if you don’t have a moral reason not to. Every day, 17 Americans die waiting for a transplant, while every 10 minutes, another person is added to the list.

Clearly, we are a long way from 1954 and the first successful kidney transplant. Since that event 70 years ago, surgical technology and techniques have advanced in ways that have extended people’s lifespans beyond what was once dreamed possible.

In 2023, Indiana recorded 1,134 organs transplanted, eclipsing the previous year’s mark by 17%, according to the Indianapolis-based network.

Advances in science are one reason transplants have increased, but the other part of the equation relies on people willing to donate organs and tissue. A testament to the Hoosier spirit is that the Indiana Donor Network registered or re-signed more than 950,000 state residents to become organ and tissue donors in 2023, setting a single-year registration record. Today, more than 4.4 million Hoosiers have signed up to become organ donors.

There is often an emotional conflict with most transplantations. One person passes, and a family grieves. Yet the donor can save as many as eight lives. Such meaningful and noble acts are not lost on the people charged with coordinating transplantations.

“The selflessness and generosity of organ and tissue donors and their families gives patients in need of a transplant a second chance at life,” said Kellie Tremain, Indiana Donor Network president and CEO, in early February. “This is our eighth consecutive year of executing high performance and unwavering commitment to donors and transplant recipients. We are dedicated to saving lives through carefully caring for our donors’ gifts and honoring their decisions by ensuring the needs of patients awaiting transplant are met.”

The network provided programs, grief and counseling services and support to 2,725 donor family members last year.

Tremain told The Journal Gazette that Hoosiers are a generous bunch. According to the Indiana Donor Network, 64% of organ or tissue donors eligible have signed up either through the Bureau of Motor Vehicles or other programs. That’s more participation than Illinois (60%), Kentucky (51%), Ohio (48%) and Michigan (44%).

Tremain, a former pediatric intensive care nurse who joined the network in 2000, credits Indiana’s high numbers to outreach. Last year, the network held 1,018 school and community presentations and activations, reaching more than 272,882 Hoosiers.

At a time when memes and social media often amplify only our differences, this news about caring, sharing Hoosiers is worthy of note.

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