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Medal of Honor Awarded

St. Luke's Hospital-Bethlehem Receives National Award for Outstanding Organ Donation Rates

April is National Donate Life Month!

Bethlehem, PA (4/29/2011) - Today, Gift of Life Donor Program presented St. Luke's Hospital - Bethlehem Campus with a Medal of Honor from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS).

HHS annually awards Medals of Honor to hospitals around the nation, recognizing those healthcare professionals who make a commitment to organ and tissue donation. In recognition of its outstanding organ donation rates, St. Luke's Hospital-Bethlehem Campus was named a 2010 recipient of this prestigious award, which recognizes hospitals for achieving an organ donation rate of 75 percent or greater during a 12-month period.

St. Luke's Among the Top 3% of Hospitals

St. Luke's is among only three percent of the nation's hospitals that have achieved this goal. St. Luke's Hospital-Bethlehem Campus has received this award every year since it was first offered in 2005.

The award presentation is part of the awareness activities undertaken in the month of April, which is National Donate Life Month. The month recognizes the critical need for organ and tissue donation, according to the Department of Health and Human Services.

“This honor means that at least three out of four eligible organ donors gave the gift of life to individuals who were waiting for life-saving organ transplants,” said Scott Demczyszyn, Gift of Life Director of Transplant Services.

The month is also dedicated to recognizing the tremendous generosity of organ and tissue donors, their families, transplant recipients and the health care professionals who enable the gift of hope through donation and transplantation, said Demczyszyn.

Celebrating Dedication to Saving Lives

Gift of Life Donor Program, the organ procurement organization (OPO) serving eastern Pennsylvania, southern New Jersey and Delaware, celebrated St. Luke's dedication to saving lives through donation in an awards ceremony on April 29, 2011.

From January 2010 to date, the 13 donors from St. Luke's Hospital - Bethlehem Campus provided 36 organs to 33 recipients. Networkwide, all the hospitals (Allentown, Bethlehem, Miners and Quakertown) provided an additional 128 tissue donations.

“We are honored to recognize these public health stewards who offer such profound service to society,” said HHS Assistant Secretary for Health Howard K. Koh, MD, MPH. "The awardees have demonstrated an extraordinary commitment to quality and leadership that leaves a special legacy."

To date, Gift of Life has helped coordinate more than 30,000 life-saving transplants along with hundreds of thousand of tissue transplants in the region. Gift of Life attributes its success to working hand in hand with area hospitals and partners to make organ donation a priority.

But the need is dire: currently, more than 6,400 men, women and children in the region are awaiting life-saving organ transplants. In the U.S., more than 110,000 people await life-saving organ transplants, and each day 18 of those people die waiting for their opportunity.

Donate Life Month serves as a reminder that registering as an organ and tissue donor saves lives.

Promoting Awareness

The Gift of Life Donor Program suggests ways to promote awareness within families and with close friends simply by discussing organ and tissue donation. Let them know of your decision to become a donor, or even just take two minutes register online. In Pennsylvania, residents can log directly onto the Department of Transportation web site at donatelife-pa.org to sign up as a donor.

New Jersey residents can make their decision known when they renew their driver's licenses. More information may be obtained on the Donate Life New Jersey Web site, donatelifenj.org.


About Gift of Life Donor Program

Since 1974, Gift of Life has served as the link between donors and patients awaiting life-saving transplants in the eastern half of Pennsylvania, southern New Jersey and Delaware. In that tenure, the OPO has coordinated more than 30,000 life-saving organ transplants and hundreds of thousands of tissue transplants. For more information on organ and tissue donation, please call the Gift of Life at 1-800-DONORS-1 or visit the website www.donors1.org.