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How Organ Donation Works, Part 1

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By Jay Michaels

Twin Falls, Idaho (KMVT-TV) We've all heard how by donating our organs, we can give the gift of life. But exactly how does the process work?

When it comes to organ donations, St. Luke's Magic Valley has teamed up with Intermountain Donor Services in Salt Lake City, Utah for years now. So what happens when an organ donor's in a serious accident, and it's time to harvest their organs?

Val Leonard, Administrative Supervisor at St. Luke's Magic Valley, says, "The process works very effectively. Once we identify that we have a potential donor, a phone call is made to Intermountain Donor Services, and then they partner very closely with us every step of the way, including our communications and interactions with the patients' families."

Leonard says then Intermountain Donor Services and the doctors evaluate the patient, and move forward with the process if it's appropriate. The patients who will receive the organs are already on a waiting list. So how does Intermountain Donor Services get the organs where they need to go in time?

Alex McDonald with Intermountain Donor Services, says, "We typically will fly on Learjets. It's not because they're so much fun, it's because they're so fast, and our time constraints are very tight. And they tend to be able to fly in all sorts of weather. So it's not like we would have to drive up through a horrible storm, we can fly."

In the end, organ donation has a ripple effect. While at first the donor's family has to work through grieving the loss of their family member, It's amazing how many other lives can be touched because someone signed up to be an organ donor.

Leonard says, "It does make a big difference in the lives of the recipients. But it makes equally as big a difference in the lives of the donor's family. Oftentimes that's the only hope we have to offer them, is the donation from their loved ones has the potential to save nine other lives."

Tune in again tomorrow to find out how the Lions Eye Bank in Boise works, and how many of our friends and neighbors benefit from their efforts in part two of this series about organ donation.

Apr. 26, 2012.


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