Date: 4/1/2011

Hospitals receive Top Honors from Gift of Hope for Donor Efforts

Gift of Hope Organ & Tissue Donor Network has named the hospitals of Community Healthcare System a “2010 Lifesaving Partner” for outstanding achievement in addressing the region’s critical need for organ, eye and tissue donations. Community Hospital in Munster, St. Catherine Hospital in East Chicago and St. Mary Medical Center in Hobart have been selected among hundreds of hospital, forensic and civic professionals who work to help coordinate donation, enable lifesaving transplants, support the families of donor, educate other healthcare professionals and promote awareness of the critical need for donation.

“The accomplishments of these hospitals and individuals truly demonstrates what we can all do on our own and our collective efforts, to save thousands of lives of those in need of organ and tissue transplants,” said Gift of Hope Organ & Tissue Donor Network President/CEO, Jerry Anderson.

Staff at the hospitals work throughout the year to coordinate outreach programs for donor families, organize registration drives and sponsor events relating to the Flags Across America program. At Community Hospital, St. Catherine Hospital and St. Mary Medical Center, the “Donate Life” flag is flown in honor of a donor for 48 hours as a silent salute. Each donor family receives a card with a garden-sized version of the flag as a keepsake and to honor the generous gift provided by their loved one.

“Our flag program pays tribute to those who have made a difference in someone else’s life,” said Community Healthcare System Chief Executive Officer John Gorski. “It also serves as a reminder that we all have the power to change the lives of those who are desperately waiting for lifesaving or life-enhancing gifts of hope.”

More than 1,500 people in Indiana are waiting for lifesaving organ transplants, and one in every 20 Americans will need some sort of tissue transplant in their lifetime. Just one organ donor can
save the lives of as many as nine people, and one tissue donor can enhance the lives of as many as 25 people.

During the month of April — National Donate Life month - the hospitals of Community Healthcare System also join in the national initiative to honor and celebrate donors and recipients. The “Donate Life” flag is flown every day at the three hospitals and donor registration drives are held. Donor registration drives are planned 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. at Community Hospital on Friday, April 8; St. Catherine Hospital on Wednesday, April 13 and St. Mary Medical Center on Tuesday, April 19.

Those thinking about becoming a donor may want to ask questions and get more information from Ender Akan, M.D., neurologist and physician advisor/member of the Community Hospital Donate Life Committee. Anyone interested in joining the national initiative can meet with Dr. Akan between 11:30 a.m. and 1:30 p.m. at the donor registration table outside of the Community Hospital (901 MacArthur Blvd., Munster) cafeteria next Friday, April 8.

“As a physician, I feel it is so important to help someone live a healthier life and not be burdened with a chronic disease,” says Dr. Akan. “I believe everyone should consider being a potential donor which could turn a tragedy into a lifesaving gift.”

St. Catherine Hospital in East Chicago has scheduled a flag ceremony with blessing and presentation to honor donors and their family members and celebrate recipients at 2 p.m. on Wednesday, April 13. Everyone is invited to attend 4321 Fir Street in East Chicago to find out more about the impact of becoming a donor. Chicagoland/Northwest Indiana MOTTEP®, the Minority Organ & Tissue Transplant Education Program, will have representatives available with facts on organ and tissue transplantation. (Call 219-392-7135 for more information.)

Another important thing to remember is to share your decision to be a donor with your family, said Akan.

Under Indiana’s Donor Choice Law, individuals 18 and older may declare their decision to donate, and family members are not able to override that decision at the time of death. Individuals under age 18 may declare their donation decisions with the permission of a parent or legal guardian, who must also provide consent for donation at the time of a minor’s death.

Through the Bureau of Motor Vehicles, Indiana residents can register their decision to be organ and tissue donors while obtaining or renewing their drivers’ license.

Registration also is accepted at