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Montefiore Initiative Underscores Value of Organ Donation

Project Aimed At Increasing Number of Bronx Organ and Tissue Donors   

BRONX, NY (August 13, 2009) -- Organ donation is often referred to as "the gift of life."  It is probably the most unselfish act one person can do for another.  Organ transplant is one of the most important procedures available to help save a person's life, yet the Bronx struggles as a community to meet the needs of its residents.  Whether it's common misconceptions about the life saving procedure, or a lack of knowledge, there are not nearly enough donors available.  There are almost 800 people on the Montefiore Medical Center waiting list and the number continues to grow everyday. 

To help raise awareness in the Bronx, Montefiore established the Montefiore Organ and Tissue Donation Initiative, a plan designed to better educate those who are skeptical or ill informed about the process.  "My responsibility is to promote organ and tissue donation in-house and in the community," states Leo Trevino, Manager of the Organ and Tissue Donation Initiative.  "The campaign is a twofold effort to increase awareness and enrollment on the New York State Donate Life Registry."

Since the initiative's start almost two years ago, hundreds of Montefiore employees have supported the cause and registered to become donors.  On a larger scale, the New York Donor Network reported an increase of over 9,000 new registered donors.  This boost in numbers proves that knowledge is power, and when people are informed, they are driven to act accordingly. 

"It's a great opportunity to give back to humanity after you're gone," notes Beatrice Morales from Montefiore Medical Center's Human Resources Department, who recently signed up on the registry.  "I never thought about organ donation before, but Leo's presentation opened my eyes and he facilitated the process."

"What I do is plant the awareness seed," Trevino explains.  "Our staff members are on board with the mission, so they go into churches and clubs to influence and promote donation.  They are also talking to their loved ones about their decision to donate.  This program is about empowering our employees and residents of the Bronx with knowledge."

The Children's Hospital at Montefiore recently had its transplant center application approved by the New York State Department of Health, expanding the hospital's treatment capabilities in the Bronx.        

Daniel Goldstein, M.D., Director of the Heart Transplant Program at Montefiore, understands the value of organ and tissue awareness.  He leads the team that has performed many transplant procedures and has witnessed how being a donor can make a difference.  "Donating a heart to someone who has heart disease and is in desperate need is the greatest gift anybody can give," Dr. Goldstein said.  "There is an acute need for organs in this country, but there is a clear disparity between the supply of organs we have and the demand we need to meet.  We have been able to use the Left Ventricle Assist Device (LVAD) as a replacement, but the best heart available is the one we were given." 

For more information about the Organ and Tissue Donation Initiative at Montefiore, call Leo Trevino at 718-798-4285.    

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