Skip to Content

This Week: MU Health System organ donation

There are more people in need of a transplant in the U.S. than there are residents of Columbia, and almost 3 times the amount of people in Jefferson City. One organization is working to make a difference. University of Missouri Healthcare’s transplant program is being recognized for its excellence. On “This Week,” Dr. Mark Wakefield tells us what the recognition means and the importance of organ donation.

Here is a transcript of the interview:

Dr. Wakefield: So, we’ve been recognized for the extreme dedication and teamwork to maximize the opportunity for the gift of life. So, something very sad has happened. A patient has died, and they and their families have agreed to give the gift of life, and we’ve maximized that gift by being very efficient and true to their wishes and maximizing organ donation.

Joey Parker: And it’s something nobody likes to think about, even though it’s something you can do when you’re getting your driver’s license. They ask you the question, it’s an easy check box, but people think, ‘I’ll do it later,’

Dr. Wakefield: But it’s amazing how generous people are, especially around Mid-Missouri. A very high number of people are willing to be donors. And it’s something that usually never happens, fortunately. But if it does, something good can come out of it. So, we’re very fortunate to have generous, giving people in our community.

Joey Parker: There are some myths about organ donation.

Dr. Wakefield: Yes.

Joey Parker: The biggest one I always hear is, obviously, that they won’t be able to have a closed-casket funeral. That’s not true.

Dr. Wakefield: That is not true. It’s absolutely not true.

Joey Parker: And the other one is that people will give you less attention, medically, first responders, people in the hospital, if it’s a very serious condition, that they may neglect your care. Again, not true.

Dr. Wakefield: That’s not true. And we’re very careful and understanding of people’s concerns, and so we try to separate the medical care of someone who’s injured or ill from the process of organ donation. So there’s a separation and balance that protects the health and safety of the public. And I think it’s very important for integrity and the best interest of the families, the patients, and the potential recipients.

Joey Parker: And one person can save many lives, right?

Dr. Wakefield: That’s true. If you consider organ, tissue, corneal donation, a single organ donor can have an impact on 8-80 lives.

Joey Parker: Now, how about people who say, ‘okay, I’ll donate my heart, my liver, kidney, not corneas, not a corneal transplant?’

Dr. Wakefield: That’s okay, you can make specific limitations on your donations. And, people have different reasons for doing that. And, my personal philosophy is, ‘anything is better than nothing.’ And, it really helps a lot of people, and there’s a huge need, there’s a big discrepancy between the number of patients in need of organ and tissue donation and the availability.

Joey Parker: Now, how about folks who say, ‘well, I’m sort of sickly, and no one would want my parts?’

Dr. Wakefield: Uh, it’s usually not true. And, there’s such a discrepancy between the number of available organs and the number of people waiting for transplant, that we’re very careful not to turn down any potential, useful, lifesaving organ or tissue.

Joey Parker: And most major religions are okay with this.

Dr. Wakefield: Strongly endorse organ donation.

Joey Parker: And, also, checking the box for driver’s license application, you probably should do a little bit more than that, right?

Dr. Wakefield: I strongly encourage my friends and colleagues to let someone in their family know that this is their wishes, so that this streamlines the process if it should occur, and there’s no family conflict. You can avoid uncertainty.

Joey Parker: Dr. Wakefield, thank you very much for all you do. Congratulations on a great program.

Dr. Wakefield: My pleasure to accept on the behalf of the university.

Article Topic Follows: News

Jump to comments ↓

ABC 17 News Team


ABC 17 News is committed to providing a forum for civil and constructive conversation.

Please keep your comments respectful and relevant. You can review our Community Guidelines by clicking here

If you would like to share a story idea, please submit it here.

Skip to content