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Donate Life Events: Roses and Tales of Courage

Every year The University of Kansas Hospital hosts a Rose Ceremony honoring the lives of organ, eye and tissue donors from the past yearEvery April marks a special time at The University of Kansas Hospital – the month to honor organ, eye and tissue donations.

The hospital's transplant program encompasses approximately 120 physicians, nurses and others in the Center for Transplantation, as well as several hundred more staff on Units 63-64, who care for patients after transplant surgeries. 

Many of them dress in blue and green on National Donate Life Day to show their support for donors.

The hospital also hosts a Rose Ceremony every April, honoring the lives of organ, eye and tissue donors from the past year. There were 98 roses at this year's event.

Rose Ceremony stories are sometimes painful but always heartwarming. Conor Rock, who has an autoimmune disease that causes cirrhosis of the liver, told how donors have saved his life: He has received two liver transplants – one in Nebraska, the second one here in October 2014. He's now a nurse associate on Unit 64, caring for transplant recipients.

Another speaker, Barbara Starr, recalled how her son, David, died 25 years ago in an auto accident. His heart was donated to a 54-year-old man, eyes to two people and tissue to 50 others.

Receiving this information, Starr said, "was a tremendous blessing to us."

Such stories are key to April's message: Organ, eye and tissue donations save lives. The word seems to be spreading, too: For the first time last year, the nation's transplant centers surpassed 30,000 solid organ transplants.

While total number of organ transplants at our hospital remains strong, the program's hidden gem is its level of quality. For instance, average wait time for a liver transplant here is seven months compared with 16 months nationally.

By the Numbers: Organ Transplants in 2015

Based on the region's demographics, the hospital also performs nearly twice the number of kidney transplants as expected, with survival rate "as expected." For liver transplants, survival rate is nearly double what's expected.

"The transplant center here has outstanding patient outcomes," said Courtney Root, Midwest Transplant Network coordinator at The University of Kansas Hospital. "You also see it in the hospital's culture and the way staff provide the best care. They want to ensure they remain the ultimate choice for choosing a transplant center."