Organs donated, removed for transplant at UM-Dearborn Health Expo
Dozens of organs were harvested in Kochoff Hall on Friday.
BY E. ZWIEBACK
DEARBORN, MI – Kochoff Hall buzzed with activity on Friday as hundreds of students, faculty, and family members traveled from one table to the next at the University of Michigan-Dearborn Health Expo.
Over thirty organizations, from recognized student organizations to the big three Health Systems of Oakwood, Henry Ford, and the University of Michigan, all gathered in the University Center to offer their services to the campus community.
Services included free blood glucose and cholesterol screenings, body composition measurements, and flu shots for only $5. However, the biggest service rendered that day took everyone by surprise.
One of the attending organizations was Wolverines for Life, a University of Michigan donor community. Representatives from WFL signed up Expo guests to be organ donors. Little did the group know how great would be the return.
“It started with a young gentleman who signed up for the donor registry,” said Mary Bickerstaff of WFL. “I gave him a thank-you maize and blue wristband, ready to move on to the next person, when he asked me how soon he could donate his kidney.” Bickerstaff laughed. “I was shocked.”
Organ harvesting is typically performed after a registered donor has reached the last few minutes of his or her life. “If the man had been in a car accident, and he wasn’t going to survive, transplant surgeons would rush to remove his donateable organs,” explained Bickerstaff. “Then they’d call the next person on the transplant list, letting them know that a miracle was finally here.”
After that initial exchange between Bickerstaff and the eager youth, more and more attendees signed up for the donor registry with the same question. “We were overwhelmed by the outpouring of goodwill,” said Ernest Michaels, executive director of WFL. “It usually takes much coaxing to get people to sign up. We decided to capitalize on the opportunity right then and there.”
With help from the three health systems present, some ice-filled coolers donated by the Biology Department, and food prep equipment from Campus Dining, dozens of organs were harvested in Kochoff Hall on Friday.
The surgeries were performed under the direction of physicians at various hospitals, who supervised wirelessly using HealthNet connect’s VideoDoc system, a Skype-like system that allows doctors to video conference with and remotely monitor patients.
Kidneys, hearts, lungs, corneas, and every type of organ under the sun were shipped off to various locations for transplant. Those who couldn’t donate vital organs opted to have their limbs amputated and given to those who couldn’t afford prosthetics.
“I could never have planned for this,” reflected Lance Slatton, the Expo’s driving force, as people stumbled, shuffled, hopped, and were carried out of Kochoff. “It was definitely a day of miracles.”