A DeSoto County hospital leads the Mid-South for saving lives through organ tissue donation.
The Mid-South Transplant Foundation (MSTF) Friday gave Baptist Memorial Hospital-DeSoto in Southaven an award as the number one hospital in that area.
The award was presented at the hospital’s conference room in Southaven with officials from the facility and the MSTF on hand as part of a hospital event.
"Last year, many lives were saved or enhanced by an increase in the number of tissue donors from Baptist Memorial Hospital-DeSoto,” said Judi DeFranco, MSTF Hospital Development Manager. “This was more than any other hospital in the Memphis and Mid-South area served by MSTF."
Donated tissues such as skin, bone, tendons and ligaments, corneas, heart valves, and veins can dramatically improve the quality of life for recipients, restore sight and even save lives.
In the case of Baptist-DeSoto, as in other hospitals, the MSTF is notified by the hospital that a person has died.
Once it’s decided the deceased has organs that can be donated, the state donor registry is contacted to see if he or she is listed on it. If not, a spouse, relative or close friend is contacted, whoever can legally authorize a donation. All this must be done within 24 hours of death.
“It’s just a well-run process here,” said MTSF Executive Director Kim Van Frank. “We had 148 tissue donors in our counties this year and Baptist-DeSoto had 25 of those. They were almost 20 percent of our donors out of this one facility.”
Van Frank noted the importance of tissue donation to the lives of many.
“One tissue donor can enhance or save the lives of more than 50 people,” Van Frank said. “This hospital, in addition to the other patients they care for every day, has helped so many people with tissue donation. They also had many organ donors who gave men, women and children another chance to live with hearts, kidneys, intestines, livers, lungs or pancreas."
Baptist-DeSoto Administrator/CEO James Huffman said the act of donation oftentimes provides life to the recipient.
“We see those recipients of donated organs and tissue and the difference it makes in those lives,” Huffman said. “It’s an incredible gift of love.”
The Mid-South Transplant Foundation is the not-for-profit federally designated organ procurement organization (OPO) for the Mid-South area. Baptist-DeSoto led all area hospitals, including those in parts of West Tennessee, eastern Arkansas and North Mississippi in tissue donation, including parts of West Tennessee, eastern Arkansas and North Mississippi.
The MSTF pointed out there are currently more than 123,000 individuals on the national waiting list for an organ transplant and more than 28,000 lives are saved each year in the U.S. through organ donation.
A new person is added to the waiting list every 10 minutes. More than one million tissue transplants are done each year and the surgical need for tissue has been steadily rising, according to the MSTF.
One organ donor can save up to eight lives, the MSTF reported.
Huffman said Baptist-DeSoto was pleased to support the organ donor process as a mean of continuing its life-saving mission.
“We may have lost this life for whatever circumstances brought that person to us,” Huffman said. “The opportunity that we can be a part of improving or saving the life of someone else just helps us emotionally in dealing with that, as well. That’s our goal, that’s our mission in life is how can we help the next person.”
Bob Bakken is Staff Writer and may be reached at 662-429-6397 ext. 240.