Swedish’s Organ Transplant Surgeons Climb Mount Rainier Equipped with Social Media Backpack; Doctors

Swedish’s Organ Transplant Surgeons Climb Mount Rainier Equipped with Social Media Backpack; Doctors Attempt to Host Web Chat from Mountain, Stream a Portion of Climb Using Social Media

SEATTLE – Sept. 1, 2010 – A team from Swedish and LifeCenter Northwest are joining Swedish’s Andrew Precht, M.D., in climbing Mount Rainier in Washington state to raise awareness for organ transplantations on behalf of LifeCenter Northwest and Donate Life America. Together with Swedish-affiliated radiologist Udo Schmiedl M.D., Ph.D., and LifeCenter Northwest CEO Kevin O’Conner, the team is climbing the mountain with a social media backpack. With the help of a social media team at Swedish, the doctors will attempt to web stream a portion of their experience ‘live’ at 5 p.m. (PST) today at http://bit.ly/cE9OGu.

“Climbing a mountain requires incredible courage and strength,” said Dr. Precht, director of the liver and pancreas transplant program at Swedish. “The challenge is nothing compared to the daily battle a person waiting for an organ faces each day. We hope this climb encourages people to consider adding their name to the organ donor list.”

Today 108,000 people are currently waitlisted on the organ transplant recipient list, and roughly 18 of those waiting to receive donations die each day according to the United Network for Organ Sharing. Each registered organ donor has the potential to benefit more than 50 recipients on the waiting list.

The Swedish climbing team will use a 10-pound social media backpack, including a satellite phone, laptop, web camera, and other technologies to attempt to stream an hour-long live video segment discussing the importance of organ donation and transplantation. During the hour, the public will have an opportunity to ask the doctors and LifeCenter Northwest’s CEO questions about organ transplantation, donor lists and their climbing experience.

Team members from Swedish will also discuss their success with the Benevolent Community Donor Program, which was the first program of its type on the west coast to allow people to donate a kidney without having a specific recipient in mind. A team at Swedish, including a kidney transplant patient and organ transplant surgeons Drs. Marquis Hart and Lisa Florence, will also take part in the discussion through the video web stream as well as a moderated chat conversation.  Dr. Hart will also provide insight into the new program offerings at Swedish. The hospital recently added Dr. Hart to the team to add new transplants to its already comprehensive kidney and pancreas transplant program. In the coming weeks, Swedish will start performing liver transplant surgeries to help people with end-stage liver disease.

To help continue the discussion and to build further awareness following the climb, Dr. Precht as well as Organ Transplant Program team members at Swedish created a special Twibbon for people to use in their social networks. Similar to the organ transplant logo on a driver’s license, people can download a special ‘Twibbon’ heart to add to their profile picture on their social networks including Twitter, Facebook, Flickr and more. The purpose of the Twibbon is for people to place the heart in the bottom corner of their profile picture to encourage people to become organ donors as well as to encourage a discussion around the need for people to tell their loved ones that they are an organ donor.

“Half of adults in the United States say they have registered as an organ donor but only 25 percent of those individuals have told their family,” said Dr. Hart, director of the Swedish Organ Transplant program. “It is important for the community to learn about and understand the need for organ donations, and have open conversations with their loved ones.”

For more information about this awareness climb up Mt. Rainier and the importance of organ donation, click on this link to watch a short video featuring Swedish Organ Transplant surgeons Drs. Hart and Precht.

Twibbon Campaign to Help Increase Organ Donor Awareness

The Swedish Organ Transplant surgeons hope the Twibbon opens conversations with friends and family about their decision to become an organ donor as well as encourages others to join the list here. Those interested in downloading the Twibbon for their social media avatar (profile picture) can do so by clicking this link.

Details about Today's Live Web Stream

Starting at 5 p.m. today, the web stream event timeline* will include the following:

  • A ‘live’ feed with Swedish physicians Drs. Andrew Precht and Udo Schmiedl and as well as LifeCenter Northwest CEO Kevin O’Conner from the mountain. People using Twitter to join in the conversation should use #donatelife as their hashtag.
  • A ‘live’ video feed from Swedish where a kidney transplant patient, a Swedish organ transplant surgeons Drs. Marquis Hart and  Lisa Florence, a representative from LifeCenter Northwest and several advocacy group leaders will discuss the need for people to become donors.
  • Over the course of the evening: Since summiting the mountain is risky, the doctors will use the social media backpack and stream from the mountain at various points during the climb. The timing will be determined based on weather conditions, climbing circumstances, assistance and direction from the climbing guides, etc.

Get Involved, Become an Organ Donor and Save a Life

Why should you become an organ donor? Here are just a few of the many reasons according to the United Network for Organ Sharing:

  • More than 108,000 people in the United States are waiting for a lifesaving organ transplant, including more than 1,700 of our Northwest neighbors.
  • Half of the people listed for an organ transplant will not receive one due to the shortage of donated organs.
  • On average, every 13 minutes one more person is added to a transplant waiting list.
  • Tissue and organs from every individual donor has the potential to benefit more than 50 recipients.
  • It is a quick and easy process that takes only a few short moments.

*Please note that the web stream from the mountain is weather permitted. It is also dependent on new technologies which may play a factor in the event timeline. The timeline may change due to unexpected technology difficulties.

About Swedish

Established in 1910, Swedish has grown to become the largest, most comprehensive non-profit health-care provider in the Greater Seattle area over the last 100 years. It is comprised of four hospital campuses – First Hill, Cherry Hill, Ballard and Edmonds – a freestanding emergency department and ambulatory care center in Issaquah, Swedish Visiting Nurse Services, and the Swedish Physician Division – a network of more than 40 primary-care and specialty clinics located throughout the Puget Sound area. In addition to general medical and surgical care, Swedish is known as a regional referral center, providing specialized treatment in areas such as cardiovascular care, cancer care, neuroscience, orthopedics, high-risk obstetrics, pediatric specialties, organ transplantation and clinical research. For more information, visit www.swedish.org and www.swedish100.org.

About LifeCenter Northwest

LifeCenter Northwest is one of the 58 federally-designated non-profit organ procurement organizations (OPO) in the United States. LifeCenter Northwest saves and enhances lives by facilitating the recovery of organs and tissues in Alaska, Montana, North Idaho, and Washington.  By educating the community about the need and the importance for people to register their donation wishes on our registry site, we hope to help the over 100,000 people waiting for a transplant. LifeCenter Northwest serves around 7.7 million people, spread throughout Alaska, Montana, North Idaho, and Washington.  LifeCenter Northwest works collaboratively with over 220 hospitals and serves the largest geographic area of any organ procurement organization.

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