Health forum to explore organ transplantation

GVL / Sheila Babbitt

GVL / Sheila Babbitt

McKenna Peariso

Grand Valley State University continues its commitment to health education through various health forum events, the most recent upcoming event will be held on Friday, Feb. 1 in the Loosemoore Auditorium. “Organ Donation and Plastination,” the forum’s topic for discussion, is open to the public and aims to show the current realities of the organ transplant process. Presentations begin at 8 a.m. with a range of health and transplant experts from GVSU and the west Michigan area, the event will conclude at 9:30.

“The Health Forums of West Michigan are an incredible opportunity to learn from experts about health topics that are pertinent to the well-being of the region,” said Director of Simulation for the Office of the Vice Provost for Health Katie Branch. 

Health Forum of West Michigan events are hosted by GVSU’s vice provost for health office and the midwest interprofessional practice, education and research center to coordinate local leadership into discussions about health topics affecting the area. The forum scheduled for Feb. 1 will shed some light on the ethical considerations and financial constraints of organ donation.

“Unfortunately, the need for organ transplants is outpacing the rate of donor registrations,” Branch said. “The upcoming forum on organ donation will bring light to the current transplants needed locally, misconceptions about organ donations, the transplant procedure and what life is like for the patient that goes through the process.”

According to the Michigan Secretary of State, more than 3,000 Michigan residents are on the organ donation waiting list. The process of waiting for an organ transplant can be timely and distressing, especially considering the amount of needed transplants outpaces the number of organs available. With a critical need for hearts, livers and kidneys, the inequality between need and supply can spell tragedy for many patients who will never get a transplant.

“Twenty people die each day because the organ they need is not available,” said Vice Provost for Health Jean Nagelkerk.

With a limited amount of time to transplant, matching donated organs to recipients can depend on several factors which will be discussed further in depth ethically at the upcoming health forum event. The forum will also provide a deeper glimpse into an individual’s journey through the organ transplantation process as well as the cost implications and post-partum life. As part of the health forum’s overall goals for broadening health education, this topic will provide perspectives from national, local and state entities.

“The Health Forums support lifelong learning and personal growth through expanding one’s knowledge base about health topics affecting our community,” Nagelkerk said. 

Information and debate from the health forums not only provide insight into current health topics, but also create proactive strategies to addressing local health issues. Attendees to the forums get to hear from distinguished experts on some of the most prominent health issues in the area and walk away with a better understanding of the local community’s wellness needs.

“Through these forums we strive to foster community engagement and partnerships that lead to further opportunities for GVSU student,” Branch said. “As an educational institution we are one part of the equation that leads our region to developing a healthy community.”