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Washington County Health System
  Organ Donation


It’s not an easy discussion. It’s not an easy choice. Organ donation is a selfless gift, and saves lives. “For patients with organ failure, it means long-term survival,” said Dr. Marc Kross, general surgeon at Washington County Hospital.

Washington County Hospital is one of four Maryland hospitals to receive the national Organ Donation Medal of Honor from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Ours is the only Maryland hospital to receive this honor four times.

According to the United Network for Organ Sharing, over 100,000 people await organ transplants. In Maryland, approximately 2,000 candidates remain on the wait list.

“Many people die while on the organ donation waiting list. When there is a fatal accident, the loss of that person’s life can save four to five other lives,” explained Debbie Malick, RN, and administrative director for critical care services.

The hospital’s goal is to gain organ donation consent from 75% of those who will not live through a fatal accident or cardiac arrest. In each of those consents, four to five organs or tissue may be obtained. The Organ Donation Medal of Honor recognizes hospitals achieving a 75% conversion rate of eligible patients donating organ and tissue.

Washington County Hospital works with Living Legacy, an organ procurement system, to encourage family members to donate the organs of their loved ones. Organ donation includes kidneys, heart, lungs, and liver. Skin, muscle, bones, and corneas known as “tissue” are also used to save lives.

Although a gap between the supply and demand for organs continues nationwide, transplants in Maryland have increased slightly each year since 2004. In 2007, 669 people received transplants, and over 71% of them were between the ages of thirty-five and sixty-four. Both Kross and Malick hope the hospital’s award will increase the community’s awareness of the organ shortage.

For those awaiting transplants, organ donation is a second chance at life. “You see the special bond between the family members, the organ donor, and the recipient patient,” said Malick. “Especially the heart recipient because the donor’s heart lives on.”

To learn more about organ donation, or to become an organ donor, go to


© 2009
Washington County Health System
251 East Antietam Street
Hagerstown, MD 21740

TDD: 1-800-735-2258
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