Over 80,000 persons in the United States are awaiting kidney transplantation, including about 1,400 in Washington State. Recipients who have the opportunity to receive a living donor kidney can be transplanted sooner and have better long term outcomes.
In response to an increasing interest in living organ donation in our community, the Organ Transplant Program at Swedish created the Swedish Benevolent Community Donor Program. This Program opens up a whole new avenue for the life-saving work of transplant medicine.
A benevolent donor is an altruistic individual from the community who volunteers to anonymously give a kidney to a patient on the national waiting list in need of a life saving kidney transplant The BCD program allows altruistic individuals to donate a kidney without having a specific recipient in mind.
The transplant team at Swedish spent more than two years actively developing the BCD program which opened in July 2002. Since then almost 30 people in need of a kidney transplant have received this incredible gift through the Swedish Organ Transplant Benevolent Community Donor Program.
The Swedish Benevolent Community Donor Program is the first of its type on the West Coast and one of the few organized programs in the country. Although more than 50 national transplant centers claim to have experience with or are prepared to perform this type of donation, only a few have recognized the need to formalize the process into an active program
The Swedish’s Benevolent Community Donor Program does not solicit organ donors. Instead, it provides a potential means for accepting the gift of organ donation offered by people who simply want to help. Many of these potential donors share similarities — they are long-time and regular blood donors or have been on the bone-marrow donor list for many years. Many have known someone who died waiting for a transplant. Not surprisingly, persons who wish to be considered as Benevolent Community Donors universally want to do something extraordinary to help those in need. They want to make a difference.
Because of the program’s emphasis on safety (for both the donor and the recipient), potential donors undergo a stringent screening process, including personal interviews, and extensive review of their medical and psychological records. Donors who pass the screening process then meet with transplant physicians and undergo a very thorough medical and psychological evaluation prior to being reviewed for acceptance by the Living Donor Medical Review Board of the Swedish Organ Transplant Program.
For a variety of reasons, only one of 10 prospective donors meets all of the requirements to become a donor. However, there remains a huge need for assistance in every aspect of organ donor services from public education to volunteer services. Every person who asks to be considered as a Benevolent Community Donor is provided with information on how they can continue to help support organ donation in a variety of ways.
For More Information
To learn more about Swedish’s Benevolent Community Donor Program, call 1-800-99ORGAN (1-800-996-7426).