When Dr. Mary H. Dudley became Jackson County's Chief Medical Examiner in January of 2007, implementing a tissue donor referral program was among her top priorities. She knew that the Medical Examiner's Office could play a vital role in the life-saving and life-changing work of the Midwest Transplant Network (MTN) through contacting the federally certified not-for-profit "Organ Procurement Organization" about all possible tissue donor cases.
The efforts of Dr. Dudley and her staff have not gone unnoticed. MTN presented the Jackson County Medical Examiner's Office its "Outstanding Achievements in Tissue Donation" award during the organization's annual Medal of Honor Hospitals and Donation Champions Celebration on January 19. In 2010 the Medical Examiner's referrals to MTN resulted in 50 tissue donations. (Donations can include corneas, skin, bones, heart values and connective tissue.)
When the ME's Office refers cases to the Network, MTN staff contact family members to obtain permission for the tissue donations to be made.
"The Jackson County Medical Examiner’s Office is proud to be part of a program that helps our community," said Dr. Dudley. "Efforts like this highlight the importance of tissue and organ donations and the power those donations have to save and enhance multiple lives. We look forward to continuing our partnership with the Midwest Transplant Network."
According to MTN, more than 2,000 Missourians and 1,000 Kansans are waiting for a transplant that could save their lives. Every 11 minutes a new name is added to the national transplant waiting list.
Although one person choosing to donate his or her organs can affect as many as 50 other people's lives, an average of 18 deaths per day can be attributed to the lack of enough organs being available for transplant.
Jackson County Executive Mike Sanders called the recognition the ME's Office received well deserved, noting that it's further proof that the office is a "model" for other medical examiners across the nation to emulate. (Read about the ME's Office earning praises from the National Association of Medical Examiners: County Medical Examiner's Office Described As A "Model" For Others")
"I'm sure earning this award will only prompt our Medical Examiner's Office to continue their efforts and to increase the number of donations," said Sanders.