Organ organization speaks out ahead of TV show

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SPRINGFIELD- Ahead of a Tuesday evening episode of the medical drama Chicago Med that is expected to include discussions of organ donation, an organ procurement organization in Illinois is expressing hope that the added attention will reinforce the importance of organ and tissue donation and dispel common myths.

The organization Gift of Hope coordinates organ and tissue donation in most of Illinois and parts of Indiana. A communications coordinator for the group said the show mentions Gift of Hope specifically, adding that producers of the drama also worked to tell stories of organ donation accurately.

Jay Landers became involved with Gift of Hope after his son Ryan died following an automobile accident in 2007. Ryan’s organs and tissue were donated to 64 people, something Jay said has brought his family comfort.

“The grief process is never over when you lose someone, especially the way we lost Ryan … and without any meaning … except that he’s an organ and tissue donor and his legacy is so great,” Landers said.

Season Hammond works for Gift of Hope locally, often working with families of organ donors. She said that, in her work, she often encounters misunderstandings about how organ donation works. Specifically, she said, some families fear hospitals will not provide the same quality of lifesaving care to organ donors out of a desire to procure their organs.

“(Hospitals and organ procurement organizations) are two separate and distinct agencies or companies, and we have two different missions,” Hammond said. “Obviously, the hospital’s mission is to save their loved one’s life.”

Hammond also credited Illinois and the Secretary of State’s office for encouraging organ donation. She said that, unlike in years past, current Illinois law does not require the family of an adult to decide whether or not to allow organ donation but instead allows the adult’s decision to carry through.

For more information on organ donation in Illinois, click here.

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