Theda Clark Earns Tissue Donation Honor

June 13, 2011

Neenah Hospital Donors Helped Between 1,400 and 2,100 People in 2010

When Daphne Hankey walked into the Trauma Center at Theda Clark Medical Center in Neenah nearly two years ago, she faced a parent’s worst nightmare – she learned her teen son, Mitchell, was severely injured in an accident. Facing incredible grief that her son wouldn’t survive his injuries, Hankey found a way to make sense from the accident – donating his organs and tissues to help other patients.

“I wanted to find some sense in the tragedy,” Hankey said, adding she never talked with her son about organ or tissue donation and hadn’t thought about it until Theda Clark staff raised the question. “They were very sincere and compassionate, explaining how we can take what he had and help someone else.”

The American Tissue Services Foundation (ATSF) has honored Theda Clark’s efforts to provide families with donation options and information. In 2010, 28 donors from Theda Clark helped between 1,400 and 2,100 people.

Theda Clark achieved a 51 percent tissue donation rate in 2010, which means tissue was recovered on 51 percent of the medical center’s eligible donors. Hospital staff also received training in tissue donations from the ATSF and sponsored a community event to promote organ donation.

Sue Broeren, who oversees the organ and tissue procurement program at Theda Clark, said staff members are trained about the importance of organ and tissue donation and how to compassionately raise the issue with families. “Organ donation is not usually top of families’ mind, so staff members consider that and explain how other patients and families can be helped by saying yes,” she said.

While donations of organs, such as the heart, liver or kidneys, attract more attention, Broeren said donations of tissue, such as bone, skin, heart valves and veins are just as important. “These types of tissues are used in more than 1 million surgeries every year in the United States,” she said.

Many more people are eligible to be tissue donors, said Jeannette Potts, ATSF education and development manager. While organ donation takes places usually when brain death occurs and transplants must be performed within a short time afterward, tissue can be removed within 12 to 24 hours of death and be preserved for later use.

“Through its dedication and focus on increasing donations, Theda Clark has made a tremendous difference in the lives of others,” Potts said. “Donated tissue gifts save lives, as well as increase strength, mobility and independence for many patients.”

As for Hankey and her family, they still grieve Mitchell’s death, but take comfort knowing how other families have been helped. “We are going to meet the person this summer who received Mitchell’s heart. It will be very emotional, but by making that decision – to donate Mitchell’s organs – we were able to help this man stay alive and see his daughter graduate high school. It’s wonderful to see how our decision has made someone else’s life better,” Hankey said.

Theda Clark Medical Center is a 166-bed acute care hospital founded in 1909. In addition to general medical and surgical care, specialized services include a birth center, Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin - Fox Valley, the region’s only American College of Surgeons Verified Level II Trauma Center, the Aylward Outpatient Surgery Center and ThedaStar Air Medical Helicopter. Theda Clark Medical Center also offers comprehensive neuroscience care and the Theda Clark Stroke Center was the first stroke center in Northeast Wisconsin to be certified as a Primary Stroke Center by The Joint Commission. The Bariatric Program at Theda Clark, along with Midwest Bariatric Solutions and its surgeons, have jointly received two Bariatric Surgery Center of Excellence designations by the American College of Surgeons and the American Society for Bariatric Surgery.

ThedaCare™ is a community health system consisting of five hospitals: Appleton Medical Center, Theda Clark Medical Center, New London Family Medical Center, Shawano Medical Center, and Riverside Medical Center in Waupaca. ThedaCare also includes ThedaCare Physicians, ThedaCare Behavioral Health, and ThedaCare at Home. ThedaCare is the largest employer in Northeast Wisconsin with more than 6,175 employees. Follow us on Facebook and Twitter.

For more information, media may contact Megan Wilcox, APR, (megan.wilcox@thedacare.org), public relations and corporate specialist for ThedaCare, at (920) 830-5847, or call the Theda Clark Medical Center switchboard at (920) 729-3100 and ask for the marketing person on call.