Caregivers at St. Charles take organ donation incredibly seriously, treating each donor patient with care and compassion, according to Lori Gaston, Director of Critical Care Services.

“It’s such a gift these donor patients are offering. It’s really powerful to think of the lives that will be saved,” said Gaston. “We have passion around this at St. Charles, around providing excellent care to these critically ill patients. And then ‑ if life is not possible ‑ there’s a drive to say, ‘What other lives can we help save?’ And we find the most comfortable, caring way possible to potentially share organs with others.”

That commitment and dedication was recently recognized, as St. Charles Bend was one of only a handful of hospitals in the Northwest region to earn the Cascade Life Alliance Hope Award. The honor, which was received by teams from St. Charles Bend’s ICU and operating room, is given to hospitals that demonstrate outstanding efforts in support of saving lives through organ donation.

Nikki Ryan, Hospital Development Coordinator for Cascade Life Alliance, said St. Charles was honored specifically for recording a 99 percent timely referral rate and 100 percent conversion rate last year. She explained that these statistics essentially mean that St. Charles “recognizes the importance of these rare opportunities and is able to compassionately support families through these difficult end of life decisions. The topic of organ donation can be incredibly sensitive, especially when a family is unsure of their loved ones wishes and requires a high level of sensitivity to navigate. There is a lot to be proud of.”

In 2022, St. Charles helped facilitate 34 successful organ donations from 13 donor patients. Ryan says organ donation is an incredibly rare opportunity, with less than 1 percent of deaths happening in a way which can allow for organ donation to occur. In order for any life-saving donation to happen, hospital staff must be highly trained to ensure these rare opportunities are not overlooked.

St. Charles partners with Cascade Life Alliance, the federally designated Organ Procurement Organization (OPO) serving the state of Oregon, to facilitate the organ donation process and provide lifesaving organ transplants to those in need.

“This honor shows that our teams are on it. The passion around donation at this organization is palpable and impressive,” said Gaston.

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