St. Luke's Bethlehem Receives Medal of Honor

Gift of Life Donor Program on Monday presented St. Luke’s Hospital –
Bethlehem Campus with a Medal of Honor from the U.S.
Department of Health and Human Services.

The national Medal of Honor recognizes St. Luke’s for achieving an organ
donation rate of 75 percent or greater during a 12-month period.  St.
Luke’s is among only three percent of the nation’s hospitals that have
achieved this goal.

Gift of Life also honored St. Luke’s for showing exemplary leadership
and commitment to organ donors, donor families and patients on the
national transplant waiting list.  According to Gift of Life, 6,000
people in this region are waiting for a lifesaving organ transplant.

According to St. Luke’s Executive Vice President and Chief Operating
Officer Joel Fagerstrom, “St. Luke’s is proud to participate in a
program where lives are saved by organ donors and families.  Since
January 2008, in the face of tragedy and death, 17 families at St.
Luke’s Hospital generously said yes to organ donation. Although everyone
should consider themselves to be organ and tissue donors, the
opportunity is rare.  We are grateful for the generosity of families,
and also for the dedicated staff who provide care and support for
families through these difficult times.”

The award presentation is part of the awareness activities undertaken in
the month of April, which is National Donate Life Month.  The month
recognizes the critical need for organ and tissue donation, according to
the Department of Health and Human Services.

Saving lives is a yearlong endeavor, according to Gift of Life
Supervisor of Hospital Services, Kathy Yandle.  “Gift of Life Donor
Program – the nonprofit organ procurement organization (OPO) for eastern
Pennsylvania, southern New Jersey and Delaware – works diligently every
day throughout the year to provide a second chance to those awaiting a
life-saving organ transplant.  Public and professional education efforts
highlighting the importance of organ and tissue donation are crucial in
supporting this endeavor,” she said.

The month is also dedicated to recognizing the tremendous generosity of
organ and tissue donors, their families, transplant recipients and the
healthcare professionals who enable the gift of hope through donation
and transplantation, said Yandle.

Gift of Life Donor Program suggests ways to promote awareness within
families and in your close friends simply by discussing organ and tissue
donation.  Let them know of your decision to become a donor, or even
just take two minutes register online.  In Pennsylvania, residents can
log directly onto the Department of Transportation web site at
www.donatelife-pa.org <http://www.donatelife-pa.org/>  to sign up as a
donor.

New Jersey residents can make their decision known when they renew their
driver’s licenses.  More information may be obtained on the Donate Life
New Jersey Web site, www.donatelifenj.org <http://www.donatelifenj.org/>.

“Since its start in 1974, Gift of Life has coordinated more than 28,000
organ transplants and hundreds of thousands of tissue transplants.  It
has been a remarkable achievement to be one of the nation’s leaders in
transplantation, helped greatly by the exceptional generosity of the
thousands of donors and donor families,” said Yandle.  “This success is
also due to the longstanding partnerships with our hospital partners who
have committed to making organ donation a priority.

“But the work is far from over,” she continued.  “Even though thousands
of people have provided the gift of life through a commitment to organ
donation, a tremendous need still exists.  In the U.S., there are more
than 101,000 people awaiting life-saving organ transplants, and each day
18 of those people die waiting for their opportunity.  This makes it
imperative to get the word out and encourage people to make a decision
about donation. ”

For more information on organ and tissue donation, please call the Gift
of Life at 1-800- DONORS1 or visit www.donors1.org
<http://www.donors1.org/> .

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