Texas-based Organ and Tissue Recovery Agency, LifeGift, Recovers Its First Hand for Transplant
–Recovery is second of its kind in Texas —
FORT WORTH, Texas, Feb. 16, 2012 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ — LifeGift, one of the three not-for-profit organ and tissue recovery organizations based in Texas, announced today that it has coordinated the recovery of its first hand to be used in a transplant. The donation, which took place at JPS Health Network, is the second of its kind in Texas.
Referred to as vascularized composite allograft, the hand will be used to restore function to a patient who has experienced hand amputation as a result of severe illness or an injury sustained from an accident or military combat.
The donor was 22-year-old Ian Heidemann from the Fort Worth area. In addition to donating his hand, Ian also donated seven organs, his tissue and his eyes.
“This young man and his family demonstrate the true generosity of the human spirit. Through the donation of his hand, another human being will have the ability to do simple day-to-day activities that we often take for granted. What’s more, he gave others a second chance through the donation of his heart, lungs, liver, kidneys and pancreas providing them freedom from dialysis, insulin and oxygen pumps. His tissue donation will enhance the lives of many, returning them to the lives they once knew,” said Ron Ehrle, managing director of LifeGift’s North Region, based in Fort Worth. “The donation would not have been possible without the cooperation and teamwork demonstrated by JPS – a true donation partner. We appreciate their support as we ventured into new territory, coordinating the recovery of a hand for transplant.”
Ian was a registered donor on the Donate Life Texas Registry, the official database of Texans who have provided authorization to be organ, eye and tissue donors upon their deaths. Because he was a registered donor, Ian’s family did not struggle over a decision about donation. They knew right away that donation was what he wanted.
The selection process for a hand donor is much like that of an organ donor. Gender, race, age, blood type and size are all taken into consideration, but blood type and size are the critical, deciding factors. Unlike a solid organ or tissue transplant, a hand transplant involves multiple tissues (skin, muscle, tendons, bone, fat, nerves and blood vessels).
Hand transplantation is extremely rare. It estimated that only 17 patients have received hand transplants across the United States. The first hand transplant was performed in 1964 in Ecuador, utilizing immunosuppressive drugs that were unsophisticated by today’s standards.
LifeGift is a not-for-profit organ procurement organization (OPO) dedicated to recovering organs and tissue for individuals needing transplants in 109 counties in North, Southeast and West Texas. Originally established in 1987 as Gulf Coast Independent Organ Procurement Organization and later renamed, LifeGift is celebrating 25 years of saving and enhancing lives. It is one of the three OPOs in the state that operates and maintains the Donate Life Texas Registry. For more information about LifeGift, visit www.lifegift.org. For more information about Donate Life Texas, visit www.donatelifetexas.org.
About JPS Health Network
JPS Health Network is the tax-supported health care system for Tarrant County and has served the community for more than a century. Dedicated to the mission of improving the health status of the families and individuals we serve, JPS is one of the largest employers in Tarrant County with more than 4,600 employees. Patients can access services at more than 50 locations throughout Tarrant County including 30 primary health centers and specialty sites and 19 school-based health centers. JPS is the county’s first and only Level I Trauma Center with John Peter Smith Hospital and our state-of-the-art Patient Care Pavilion licensed for 537 beds. The network also offers an ambulatory surgery center; dedicated cancer center accredited by the American College of Surgeons Commission on Cancer; and Trinity Springs Pavilion inpatient behavioral health facility. A highly-regarded teaching hospital, JPS is home to 12 residency programs including the largest hospital-based family medicine residency program in the nation and the first emergency medicine residency program in Fort Worth. JPS is a proud partner with LifeGift, promoting the message of the importance of becoming a registered organ donor.
CONTACTS: Laura Frnka-Davis, APR, LifeGift, (713) 349-2570 (office), (713) 409-1480 (cell), email@example.com or Diana Carroll, JPS Health Network, (817) 927-1227 (office), (817) 930-2929, firstname.lastname@example.org