Fertility: 12 things you didn’t know (and 1 to never ask)

By Katrina Mark, MD

1. Fertility naturally declines as we age

That alone doesn’t mean you should start to worry. The general advice I give a woman is if she has been trying to become pregnant for a full year with no luck, she might consider a fertility evaluation. For a woman over age 35, she might consider it after six months. If a woman is younger and has irregular periods, it’s likely she isn’t regularly ovulating, so she might want to be evaluated sooner.

2. Sometimes there’s a reason for infertility – and sometimes, there’s not

There are some things we know cause infertility. About 20 percent of the time, we find no reason for it. For a woman, infertility can be due to a condition that causes you to not ovulate regularly such as diabetes, thyroid disease and polycystic ovaries. It can also be caused by blocked fallopian tubes or a history of ectopic pregnancy. For men, it can be due to semen issues such as a low sperm count.

Early menopause in women under the age of 40 is rare, but it can run in families and cause infertility. Lifestyle factors such as smoking and obesity contribute to infertility in both women and men.

3. Taking birth control for long periods of time does not hurt fertility

No, taking birth control stops you from getting pregnant, but it doesn’t hurt fertility once you stop taking them.

4. If you are having trouble conceiving, consider these culprits:

  • Lifestyle factors: If you smoke, try to quit. If you are obese, try to lose weight. Vigorous exercise and low body weight can also cause ovary issues. Marathon runners and gymnasts have this issue frequently. Luckily, increasing body fat percentage or decreasing exercise a small amount can often correct it.
  • Chronic conditions: If you suffer from a chronic condition such as diabetes or hypertension, make sure you are managing it and keeping it under control.
  • Ovulation issues: For women who aren’t ovulating regularly, the first line is usually Clomid, a pill that makes a woman’s body produce eggs and ovulate each month. Many OB-GYNs will prescribe this, so you don’t necessarily need to see a fertility specialist.

If there’s no known reason trouble conceiving, your OB-GYN may refer you to a fertility specialist for treatment. Fertility specialists and even some OB-GYNs perform intrauterine insemination (IUI), where sperm are placed directly in the uterus around the time the ovary releases one or more eggs to be fertilized. In vitro fertilization (IVF) is when the sperm and egg fertilize outside the woman’s body and then the fertilized egg is implanted in the uterus.

5. Your OB-GYN can often provide some fertility assistance

If a woman is trying to conceive, she should share this with her OB-GYN. If she is having trouble, an OB-GYN can provide a general evaluation to look for causes, as well as provide education, which often is very helpful.

6. Don’t worry if it’s been a month or two and you’re not pregnant

Ninety percent of couples get pregnant within a year. Don’t worry if it’s only been a few months. This is normal and usually there’s nothing wrong with you.

7. The overall rate of infertility hasn’t changed

Although more are seeking treatment. In this age, more women may be delaying fertility because of better access to education and career opportunities. The average age of a woman when she has her first child has gone up over the last few decades. Delaying childbearing increases the likelihood for a woman to experience fertility issues. There also may be more people pursuing fertility treatment now because there is better access to treatment.

8. Egg freezing is much better than it used to be

Typically, egg freezing is recommended for those who desire it when a woman is between the ages of 35 and 38. If a woman is interested in having eggs frozen, she should speak with a fertility specialist. This technology has gotten better in the last several years and there has been better success. Fertility specialists can now freeze eggs without having to fertilize them. Insurance generally doesn’t cover egg freezing unless there is a medical reason.

9. Fertility treatments have come a long way

Overall, fertility treatment has high success rates these days. In vitro fertilization (IVF) has a very high success rate. Even for women who have premature ovarian failure, which is loss of ovary function before the age of 40, can opt for a donor egg and carry a pregnancy. Sometimes it depends on what a person is willing to go through and what you can afford, although many insurances cover some fertility treatment. Most don’t cover everything and it can be expensive.

10. There are reasons not to consider fertility treatment

Some treatments can be quite expensive. Some people may have moral objections. In some cases, a woman may have a chronic condition that it wouldn’t be recommended or safe to pursue pregnancy, such as certain heart conditions. Sometimes if either partner has a genetic disorder that is hereditary, they may not want to risk passing it along to a child. If a couple chooses not to pursue fertility treatment but still wants to have children, adoption or a donor egg are also options.

11. Fertility treatments aren’t just physically demanding

They’re also mentally draining. There have been studies that have shown a woman going through fertility treatments may experience the same level of depression as someone going through cancer treatment. The psychological aspect of fertility treatments is under-recognized. We view pregnancy as a positive thing because you get a baby at the end, but fertility treatment can make a person anxious and terrified – while trying to conceive and also during pregnancy and after the baby is born. Some women are traumatized from the experience and develop an anxiety disorder. Women often go through these struggles in private because they often don’t want to tell anyone. The same is often true with miscarriages. Many women experience very real grief and depression during these times. It’s important to make sure people are getting counseling because a lot of times they aren’t even talking to their friends or family about it. If you have breast cancer, people bring you food. There is no greeting card for infertility.

12. Don’t shy away from a friend who’s having trouble conceiving

If you someone close to you who is going through fertility issues, don’t completely ignore it or become distant. Be a friend, act normal and open yourself up to the person for conversation if he or she wants to talk. A lot of times people want to talk about it but don’t know how. Give them the hope and space to talk as much or as little as they want. Everyone deals with a loss and struggles differently; some are private about it and don’t want to talk about it, but others do.

Don’t ever ask a woman when she’s going to have a baby

For someone who is going through fertility treatment, being constantly asked when they’re going to have a baby can be devastating. You don’t know what someone may be going through.

Dr. Katrina Mark is an OB-GYN at University of Maryland Medical Center and Assistant Professor of Obstetrics, Gynecology and Reproductive Sciences at the University of Maryland School of Medicine.

 

 

 

Working Hard to Engage West Baltimore Communities

Members from UMMC’s Community and Workforce Development and Commitment to Excellence teams visited Mr. Barnett’s 5th grade class at James McHenry Elementary/Middle School.

The team dropped off 32 book bags (one for each student) filled with books and school supplies. Students also received holiday toys, donated by UMMC employees and staff. Additionally, through UMMC Commitment to Excellence holiday “Give Back Campaign”, UMMC employees and staff donated socks, undershirts, underwear, and other under garments to James McHenry Elementary/Middle School’s Uniform Closet.

UMMC has officially “adopted” this class, and will be closely working with them to provide mentoring, professional development and engagement opportunities. The UMMC community will continue to work with these students through middle school, high school, college and beyond!

This is just one example of how UMMC is continually working to improve the lives of those in its surrounding communities. UMMC aims to identify and address critical issues in West Baltimore by building permanent relationships with individuals and organizations in the area.

Some other UMMC initiatives include:

  • Launching the Stanford Living Well/Chronic Disease Management Program.
  • Implementing the BHEC Baltimore City-wide Community Health Work Training Certificate Program.
  • Sponsoring 50 youth in the 2017 Youth Works Internship program.
  • Initiating meetings with West Baltimore community organizations to introduce new CEO and re-establish collaborative relationships.

 

Learn more about UMMC’s community engagement efforts on our website: http://umm.edu/community

 

Get Ready for the UMMC Blood Drive, July 26–28!

By Maggie Gill, System Communications Intern

Now is the time to give, says the American Red Cross. On July 5, the not-for-profit organization issued an emergency call for blood and platelets. The request comes on the heels of a particularly slow donation season, when the available supply fell 39,000 donations short of hospital need – a trend that is expected to continue in the following weeks, as regular donors flock to the beaches and mountains for the summer holidays. Unfortunately for the five million Americans who rely on transfusions each year, a vacation is a luxury that they can’t afford.

“We urge people to give now to help hospital patients who depend on blood and platelets being available when they need it,” said Chris Hrouda, executive vice president of the Red Cross Biomedical Services, in a press release. “Summer is one of the most challenging seasons to collect enough blood, but patients need blood no matter what time of the year it is.”

Making up the deficit will require the participation of first-time donors, especially. But often, it’s these individuals who are the most hesitant to roll up their sleeves. One survey found that the top reason that would-be donors decline to give is a fear of needles. The Red Cross recommends that needle-phobes focus on the difference that their gift will make: a single pint of blood – the amount that’s typically collected in a draw – can save the lives of up to three other people. If you count yourself among the ten percent of the population that experiences fear around needles, it may also help to know what to expect on donation day. Here’s a summary of the simple, four step process.

  1. Registration. When you arrive at the blood drive, you’ll see a registration table staffed by a Red Cross employee or volunteer, who will sign you in and review the eligibility guidelines and donation information with you. Be prepared to show your donor card, driver’s license or other form of identification.
  2. Health History and Mini-Physical. This includes a private, confidential interview with a second Red Cross employee or volunteer about your health and travel history. Afterward, he or she will take your temperature, pulse and blood pressure, and prick your finger for a hemoglobin sample.
  3. Donation. Although you can expect your visit to take about an hour, the blood draw itself only lasts eight to ten minutes. The Red Cross attendant will clean a site on your arm with an alcohol swab and insert a brand-new, sterile needle into the vein. During this time, you can read, listen to music or talk with a friend. After the draw is complete, the attendant will remove the needle and cover the site with a bandage.
  4. Refreshments. In the refreshments area, you can enjoy complimentary cookies and apple juice – and the satisfaction of knowing that you’ve made a difference in the lives of others!

You can read more about what to expect Red Cross’ website.

If you’re a first-time donor, or if you haven’t donated in a while, take a minute to familiarize yourself with the eligibility guidelines. As of May, male blood and platelet donors must have a minimum hemoglobin level of 13.0 g/dL – an increase from the previous 12.5 g/dL. (For females, the minimum acceptable level is still 12.5 g/dL.) Hemoglobin is the protein in red blood cells that’s responsible for carrying oxygen from the lungs to the tissues in the rest of the body. The Red Cross tests all prospective donors’ hemoglobin levels as part of the mini-physical, to ensure that they’re able to give safely; individuals who don’t meet the requirement are invited to come back later, once they’ve raised their levels.

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Are you ready to save a life (or three)? University of Maryland Medical Center’s next blood drive will take place in the Gudelsky Hallway on:

  • Tuesday, July 26 (8 am – 8 pm)
  • Wednesday, July 27 (8 am – 8 pm)
  • Thursday, July 28 (7 am – 7 pm)

Donors receive a $5-coupon valid at all UMMC vendors and will be entered in a drawing for two tickets to an upcoming Orioles game.

Walk-ins are welcome, but should be advised that appointments are honored first. Click here to schedule yours today! To save even more time at the donation site, you can also print or download a RapidPass, which allows you to read the education materials and answer the health history questions before your appointment, in the comfort of your home.

Great Moments from Great Stories

By: Adrian Rabin and Michelle Logan, Editorial Interns

A written letter conveys a certain kind of emotional power. Throughout the year, former patients and their families take the time to thank their UMMC care providers through personal notes and emails. The Employee Engagement Team, part of UMMC’s Commitment to Excellence (C2X) staff, selects a few such letters to recognize our employees in an event known as Great Stories.

On June 30, we welcomed back three individuals — a patient, a family member and a friend of a patient — who spoke about the excellent standard of care they received and the compassionate staff they came in contact with.

Treatment teams were reunited with their patients, and through tears and laughter, the patients, families and friends had the opportunity to express their gratitude and show how well they were progressing.

Below are excerpts from the letters:

Great Service: excerpts from Tessa Abate’s letter

Barrett Quick Great StoriesA close friend of mine was admitted to the Bone Marrow unit on Gudelsky 9 for what we hope will be her chance for a remission for her disease. Early last week, she was required to leave the unit for an X-ray. This, for her, was very scary because of her risk for infection. I was on the unit visiting at the time, and had the pleasure to meet Shawn Quick, who arrived to transport her. I was able to share with him her level of anxiety and concern before he organized her to go to X-ray. To say he was a breath of sunshine is to understate the impact he had on Jennifer. He was cheery, organized and extraordinarily personable. As he chatted to her on the way to X-ray, I saw her anxiety visibly diminish. He responded to her questions in such an upbeat manner; her confidence regarding being in good hands was evident.

The impression Shawn left on us both is that we are so very lucky to have him taking care of our patients. We are also so fortunate to have (Sean Barrett) in charge of this very important service for our patients. I am sure he has a very difficult job, but you would never know it from his attitude. The experience we both had that day made a difference, and his compassion and personal touch were so very much appreciated. Thank you.

 

Great Dedication: Excerpts from Scott Goodstein’s letter

Goodstein Great StoriesAs a patient of UMMC Shock Trauma from multiple injuries sustained in a motorcycle accident in April 2013, I got to know your staff, and a few stuck out that went above and beyond. Dr. [Jason] Nascone’s entire team in the outpatient pavilion are all class acts, and are some of the most dedicated individuals I have ever met. All of the nurses and assistants were dedicated and understanding.

When I look back at my healing process and many visits over the last year and a half, one employee of the outpatient facility really stood out. Ms. Annie Williams kindly helped me through many stages of X-rays from the early days when it was hard to get on the X-ray table, to the much later and easier process. She was polite, professional and truly empathetic. She remembered me between visits and gave me words of encouragement as I progressed. She had both a great sense of humor and a professional manner that made getting through painful positioning to take X-rays … bearable! Your team is clearly lucky to have such a dedicated employee on your staff!

 

Great Care: Excerpts from Enid Valentine’s letter

Enid Valentine Great StoriesOver the last three years, I have functioned as advocate and power of attorney for my husband, Gulf War Veteran Steven L. Valentine. Considering the full range of services that UMMC has to offer, it is refreshing to know that Steven has found the good fortune and dual advantage of having some of the most remarkable networks of reliable professionals to collaborate with his VA medical team. … I wish to acknowledge the many competent hands and unconditional support that my husband has received at UMMC. Over time, the combined investments of these fine individuals have become the binding force that I currently value and respect.

This success story truly captures the vision of good medicine, as Steven has now been given a clearer path to favorable beginnings. Apparently, UMMC has just what it takes to make life happen for those who need it the most. You don’t simply mend bodies; you heal families.

 

For more information on the Great Stories program, or to submit your own story, email GreatStories@umm.edu.

UMMC Community Partnership with Building STEPS

Continuing his efforts to support the Baltimore community, President and CEO of UMMC and UMMC Midtown Campus, Jeffrey A. Rivest, lays out one of our partnership programs with Building STEPS and addresses the need for further action.

Read his message to all UMMC employees:

Dear Colleagues,

In my letter to you on Monday, I promised more information about how UMMC will play an essential role in the recovery and the rebuilding the fabric of our community after the events of last week. As one of Baltimore’s largest employers, we are deeply immersed in our community’s challenges and successes. We are very proud of the many community programs to which we contribute time, people, healthcare information and financial support — you can learn about many of those in our 2014 Community Benefits Report.

Today I’d like to highlight one particular program in which we are involved, Building STEPS, which exemplifies our commitment to Baltimore’s youth and helping them develop career ideas and opportunities for better lives. Last month, Building STEPS recognized UMMC for 15 years of partnership.

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Building STEPS (Science Technology and Educational Partnerships Inc.) is a non-profit built on one simple premise: a college education changes a person’s life. The multi-year program, supplementing students’ classroom learning, exposes bright, underserved high school students from Baltimore City and County to science and technology-based careers, and helps them excel in these fields where people of color are overwhelmingly underrepresented. Juniors visit businesses and institutions, such as UMMC, which rely on science and technology. Each seminar includes a site visit and guest speakers, providing exposure to a variety of professional opportunities. These seminars encourage the students to consider careers that might have otherwise seemed unimaginable.

A few more facts about Building STEPS:

  • More than 80 percent of Building STEPS students have earned or are on track to earn a college degree
  • Almost half of Building STEPS’ college graduates go on to earn an advanced degree
  • 85 percent of Building STEPS students are the first in their family to go to college.

In the last 4 years alone, UMMC has hosted nearly 70 Building STEPS students to get a glimpse of the life-changing care we provide to patients every day. We have employed 20 of these students as paid summer interns, and have joyfully watched many of them to go on to thrive in college, including a young man named Victor. Victor was an intern in our IT department back in the Summer of 2007, and continued working with us throughout his senior year of high school. Victor graduated from Johns Hopkins University in 2013. In Victor’s words:

Through the University of Maryland Medical Center’s Career Development, I have learned from others that life is not about the adversities we go through, but about how we overcome those adversities and use them to build character that will positively impact others… Every day I strive to be an individual who makes a difference, no matter how small it is. I know that the University of Maryland Medical Center has and will continue to be a part in my effort to make a difference.”

We take pride in our participation in programs such as Building STEPS, as we open doors of inspiration and opportunity to the youth in our community. It is our responsibility as a major regional employer and civic leader to help wherever we can, and there is no better time than now to recommit ourselves to the important and fulfilling task of providing critical partnerships for job readiness, skill development, community health, and career opportunities. I am proud of what we have done, but there is much more to do to help our city and our neighbors.

I will continue to share information with you about our relationships with our community on a regular basis. Thank you again for all you do for UMMC and our City.

rivest_jeffreySincerely,

Jeffrey A. Rivest
President and Chief Executive Officer

Healing with Baltimore

Following the events in Baltimore over the past week, UMMC and UMMC Midtown Campus President and CEO, Jeffrey A. Rivest, expressed his gratitude to all those UMMC employees who helped keep the Center’s mission in mind during such a difficult time. UMMC plays an integral role in the Baltimore community and will continue to work for the betterment of the city and the nation moving forward.

Read his message to all UMMC employees:

Dear Colleagues,

The past week is one we will never forget. Today, our city begins to recover and heal. But while we begin the healing process, let us not forget the valuable lessons we have learned about the need for all who live and work in our city to be partners for change.

FB-OneBaltimore_1While we begin a long healing process, let me thank you again for your unwavering dedication to our mission and to our role in supporting quality of life through taking care of people in their time of need. Many of our colleagues did not miss a single hour of work, despite their need to plan for the safety of their families. They faced difficulty in getting to and from work, and for some, there was no ability to reach their homes safely. Yet while the city was in crisis, each of you remained fully committed to the needs of our patients. Despite enormous challenges, we continued to operate all hospital services normally, and most importantly, were here for those in our community who needed us.

Our ability to stay united around the singular mission of caring, despite high emotions and differences of opinion, speaks to the core of who we are and what we do. I am grateful to each of you and I am inspired by your dedication to make life better for others. We are all fortunate to have this opportunity and once again, all here at UMMC showed tremendous teamwork, respect, civility and professionalism.

I also offer my sincere thanks to our hospital Security team and our Incident Command team who worked tirelessly for over six days to support all of us, keep us informed, and keep us safe. This team exemplifies professionalism, adaptability and a commitment to serve.

It is a new week in Baltimore. The city-wide curfew has been lifted, National Guard troops are phasing out, and we can be energized by the wonderful examples of love and community we witnessed in our city this weekend. This gives us hope. However, there is a long journey ahead, and many things in our culture must change–here in Baltimore and in our nation.

Later this week, I will provide you additional information about UMMC’s essential role in the recovery and the rebuilding of the fabric of our community. As one of Baltimore’s largest employers, we have been deeply involved in our community and its challenges and successes. We have all learned lessons this past week and together with others, UMMC will recommit to providing critical partnerships for job readiness, skill development, community health, and career opportunities. While we have done much, our city and our neighborhoods need much more. We must be a part of doing more and doing it better.

rivest_jeffrey

Thank you again for all you do here at UMMC.

Sincerely,

Jeffrey A. Rivest
President and Chief Executive Officer

Volunteering at a Medical Center

By: Andrea Rizkallah, Editorial Intern

AndreaVolunteering is a rewarding activity, which is why I love my position as editorial intern in the Corporate Communications department at the University of Maryland Medical Center. I thought that I had to be a medical student in order to volunteer at a medical center, but luckily I was wrong. I was able to get an administrative position that still makes a difference and offers me great experience.

The Corporate Communications department coordinates blood drives that help save lives, updates the website with valuable information for patients and families, keeps Medical Center employees updated on training events and interviews patients to communicate their stories. Even though we are not transplanting lungs or performing surgery, we are still deeply involved with the hospital. I have completed projects that really make me feel like I am part of the team, and these contributions make me feel accomplished and useful.

The volunteer program here at the University of Maryland is great because I am getting hands on experience. I get to learn how the hospital works and what goes into the everyday functions of a medical center.  Although my role is an administrative one, I feel that I am making a difference, and that is a lot to take away from a volunteer position.

Volunteers work in all areas including the Emergency department, Shock Trauma Center, Medical Records department, Dental Clinic, Psychiatry department, and many more.  There are some requirements to volunteering at the hospital:

  • You must be at least 13 years old and be able to commit to four hours a week.
  • To receive credit, recommendations or certificates, you must volunteer at least 75 hours of time.
  • All prospective volunteers must return the required paperwork to the volunteer office prior to interviews.

Learn more about how to have a rewarding volunteer experience.

Poison Prevention Week: What You Need to Know

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By: Andrea Rizkallah, Editorial Intern

Poisoning can happen at any time, often from everyday household items, and frequently to children under the age of 5. Please make sure you and your loved ones save the Poison Help line phone number (1-800-222-1222) and following these tips provided by the Maryland Poison Center at the University of Maryland School of Pharmacy and the Poison Prevention Week Council.

Here are some helpful prevention tips to stay poison-free:

  • Install safety latches on cabinets used for medicines and cleaning products.
  • Buy products in child-resistant packaging whenever possible.
  • Teach children to always ask an adult before eating, drinking or touching anything.
  • Never borrow a friend’s medicine or take old medicines.
  • Read the labels of prescription and over-the-counter medicine carefully and always consult a doctor if you have any questions.
  • Never combine household products, as some chemical mixtures may release irritating gases.
  • Wear protective clothing when spraying pesticides and other chemicals.
  • Install carbon monoxide detectors near or in your home’s sleeping areas and on every level of the home.

If you’ve taken all the above precautionary measures, but someone in your home has become poisoned anyway, follow these emergency tips:

  • If the person has inhaled poison, get him/her to fresh air right away.
  • If the person has poison on the skin, take off any clothing on the affected area and rinse the skin with running water for 15 to 20 minutes.
  • If the person has poison in the eyes, rinse eyes with running water for 15 to 20 minutes.

If you believe someone has been poisoned, call the Poison Help line (1-800-222-1222) immediately. If the person is not breathing, call 911.

poisonHere are some things to know when calling the Poison Help line:

  • The person’s age and weight
  • Known health conditions or problems
  • The product involved
  • When and how the product contacted the person
  • What first aid has already been given
  • Whether the person has vomited
  • Your exact location and how long it would take to get to a hospital

While these tips are helpful, they are not all inclusive. Please visit the Poison Help website, the National Poison Prevention Week website and the Maryland Poison Center for more information.

Making Heart Health a Year-Round Priority

By: Hope Gamper, Editorial Intern

Heart Cardiogram 150858290

February and American Heart Month are ending, but just because March is around the corner doesn’t mean you should stop thinking about keeping your heart in tip-top shape.

The American Heart Association (AHA), whose mission is to fight cardiovascular diseases and stroke, and the UM Heart Center offer a series of lifestyle recommendations for optimizing your heart health all year round.

Move More

Working out regularly is one of the best things you can do for your heart. Aim for at least 30 minutes of moderate physical activity at least 5 times a week (if you can’t do 30 minutes at a time, you can add up 10-minute sessions throughout the day).

Also try working in exercise to your normal routine:

  • Instead of driving to the store, walk or bike.
  • Park in a spot farther from your destination.
  • Keep dumbbells near the remote so you can stay active while watching TV.

Skip the Snacks

What you eat is just as important as what you do. Swapping out foods heavy with added sodium and fat for nutrient-rich foods can help you manage your weight, cholesterol and blood pressure. Here is a list of foods to fix and foods to nix.

Fix more foods high in vitamins, minerals and fiber, including:

  • Fruits and veggies
  • Whole grains – brown rice, quinoa, barley and buckwheat
  • Low-fat dairy products
  • Protein sources – poultry, fish and nuts

Nix processed foods and those that tend to be high in sodium and fat, including:

  • Sugary foods and beverages
  • Red meat
  • Deep fried foods or foods cooked in butter

Avoid Tobacco

Tobacco and other ingredients common in cigarettes frequently contribute to heart disease. Even secondhand smoke kills nearly 70,000 people each year.

The good news is that when you quit smoking you see short term benefits right away, and it only takes about 5 to 15 years to reduce stroke risk to that similar of a nonsmoker. There is still time to reverse the damage caused by tobacco and ensure that your heart keeps pumping for many years to come.

Click here for a list of Smoking Cessation Classes in your area.

 

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Heart disease accounts for 1 in 4 deaths each year, making these types of incremental changes vital to reducing your risk of heart related illness and keeping your heart well for all of life’s challenges, in February or any other month.

Thanking Donors with All of Our Heart

By: Hope Gamper, Editorial Intern

Most people know February 14th as Valentine’s Day,  but February 14th also shares the honor of being National Donor Day. National Donor Day honors donors of organs, tissues, marrow, platelets and blood. This Valentine’s Day, consider giving the gift of life to someone in need and celebrate the amazing generosity of former donors.

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A Great Need for Organ Donors

Every 10 minutes, someone is added to the waiting list for an organ. While UMMC offers multiple listing, potentially allowing a patient to receive an organ sooner, the need for donors is still great.

As the demand for organs rises, so does the need for organ donors. There are two types of organ donors: deceased donors and living donors, and both play an important role in healing someone in need.

A donation from a deceased individual can save as many as 8 lives and the process is facilitated by the Living Legacy Foundation. Deceased donors can provide tissues, corneas and organs such as the kidneys, pancreas, liver, lungs, heart and intestines. Donations are only considered after all life-saving efforts have been exhausted. To prepare for this type of donation, update your driver’s license donor status through the MVA.

The living organ donation process allows living individuals the ability to donate whole kidneys or parts of the liver, pancreas, lungs and intestines. Most of these organs either regenerate on their own or can function without a small portion. Receiving a transplant from a living donor is often an alternative to waiting on the national transplant waiting list. Learn more about living donation for a loved one.

Where Donations Go

Transplant surgeons at UMMC perform a total of more than 420 transplants, but there are currently more than 123,000 people in need of lifesaving transplants. You may direct a donation to a specific individual or your donation may go to the next eligible person on the waiting list. Patients who receive your donation will be matched based on an array of factors including blood type and severity of illness.

To those in need, donating an organ is an indescribable gift.  Successful UMMC transplant recipients for heart, kidney, lungliver and other conditions, have gone on to live joyfully once again.

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To the Heart of the Matter – Ways You Can Help

  • Consider giving the gift of life this Donor Day. Learn more about providing a living donation for a loved one from the UMMC Transplant Center.
  • Become an organ donor by opting in the next time you renew your driver’s license or filling out the online registry form here: https://register.donatelifemaryland.org/
  • Sign up with the Red Cross for a UMMC blood drive to donate blood or platelets.

And most importantly, thank an organ donor and their heroic and truly altruistic gift that has given thousands of people a second chance at life.