Tyrone Regional Health Network

From left: Pastor Randy Zitterbart (Hillside Community Church-Tyrone and member of the TRHN board of directors); Kelly Biggs, M.D. (medical director of radiology); Tara Morrison (TRHN executive assistant); John Wagner (volunteer firefighter with the Hookies); Anna Anna (TRHN chief nursing officer); Joseph J. Peluso (TRHN CEO).

Thursday Tyrone Hospital raised a flag in the lobby to raise awareness regarding organ donation and also to encourage more people to become organ donors. This year for the first time (at least in recent memory), the local hospital is participating in the Hospital and Health System Association Donate Life Challenge.

The Challenge works to increase awareness of the importance of organ donation and encourages people to register as organ donors. Donors have begun registering already and can continue to register on-site at Tyrone Hospital. The challenge will continue through the month of April.

At the flag raising, Anna Anna, chief nursing officer, first called for a moment of silence in memory of all of those who have donated organs, providing life for others.

Anna said that while 96 percent of Pennsylvanians support organ donation, only 46 percent have taken the step to become donors. There are currently 8,000 in the state who are awaiting organ transplants.

“We are in the business of saving lives,” Anna said, “so we want to continue to try and do that.”

Tyrone Hospital CEO Joseph Peluso said that the importance of the event is twofold. “Number one,” he said, “we want to have the opportunity to provide the organs, because there’s a great need. And number two, we want to raise awareness for people to be organ donors.”

Anna said that they are encouraged that people are already signing up. “It’s a great endeavor,” she said. She felt it was important to support it as a community hospital, especially since Tyrone Hospital has recently been providing corneal transplants.

“Reading some of the success stories of patients who lose their sight and can’t see their grandchildren or can’t drive their children to school. It really is something that we don’t think about everyday. Raising the awareness of the 8,000 people in Pennsylvania that need those types of surgeries — if we can help one, that’s a benefit,” Anna said.

Pennsylvania lawmakers gave organ donation a boost recently when they updated Pennsylvania’s organ donation law. In October, 2018 Governor Wolf signed Senate Bill 180, the Donate Life PA Act, marking the first update to Pennsylvania’s organ donor laws in more than 20 years. The law works to provide more access to organ donation, including tissue donation, as well as public education about the donation process and the importance of organ donation.

Facts about Senate Bill 180, the Donate Life PA Act:

· Adds Pennsylvania to the group of 47 other states to adopt the Uniform Anatomical Gift Act (UAGA), which aims to standardize best clinical practices nationwide so all available organs end up reaching people in need.

· Increases opportunities for adults to register as organ donors.

· Provides for all public high schools (grades 9 through 12) to have access to a model curriculum about donation and transplantation. The hope is to inspire students them to register as organ donors early on. Students can register to be organ donors when they are 16 with parental consent.

· Ensures a full assessment of organ donation potential by county coroners and health care professionals through on-site meetings and that the reasons for any denial of organ donation are documented.

· Increases opportunities to voluntarily contribute to The Governor Robert P. Casey Memorial Organ and Tissue Donation Awareness Trust Fund, which provides for organ donation education and bereavement counseling services to donor families.

Julie White can be reached at jwhite@thedailyherald.net.

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