Organ donations in Utah set a record high in lives saved

Donating a kidney to a stranger seems like an overwhelming task, but for Larry Daugherty, the decision has already been made.

The U medical student decided last October to donate a kidney to his sister.

Before he was able to go through with the procedure, she passed away.

In honor of his sister’s death, Daugherty felt obligated to give his kidney to a stranger through the Intermountain Donor Services, an organ recovery organization for Utah.

“I still wanted to donate a kidney, and I was going to anyway. It was a personal decision,” Daugherty said.

Daugherty is just one of 69 Utahns who either donated or decided to donated an organ last year.

Utah had a record high in lives saved through organ donation in 2003.

A new survey showed that Utahns were more likely to donate their organs than residents of any other state in the country in 2003.

“Utahns are a generous people who want to help their neighbors,” said Alex McDonald, director of public education for the donor service.

According to Kagel Research, from 1993 to 2003, positive public attitudes about organ donation in Utah rose from 83 percent to 96 percent.

“That’s absolutely remarkable when you consider the national average is 65 percent,” McDonald said.

Despite the statistics, Utahns are somewhat timid awbout becoming donors on their driver’s licenses.

In 1993, 48 percent of Utahns marked “yes” on their driver’s licenses. In 2003, 68 percent said “yes” to donation.

While 20 percent growth is admirable, McDonald said there is still work to be accomplished.

“Since 96 percent of this state favors donation, we still have a ways to go to get all of these people to say ‘yes’ on their driver’s licenses or to join the Utah Donor Registry online,” he said.

Daugherty says he feels that everyone should indicate he or she is a donor on his or her driver’s license.

Out of 69 organ donations last year, 19 of those procedures took place at University Hospital.

“[Donating an organ] is a great opportunity to get something good out of something horrible-a patient suffering in need of a transplant,” said Kim Phillips, U manager of solid organ transplant services.

The new Good Samaritan Living Kidney Donor Program, launched in April 2003, encourages people to become donors.

Another survey revealed that 47 percent of Utahns said they were willing to donate one of their kidneys to a stranger this year.

In 2003, more than 200 people inquired about the program, and 20 people have already donated a kidney or will soon.

Daugherty’s donation will occur this summer.

“The hardest part [to decide to donate] was convincing my wife,” Daugherty said. “After she found out all the information, she was OK with it.”

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