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Beaumont physicians share powerful messages to promote organ donor registration drive

Beaumont physicians share powerful messages to promote organ donor registration drive
Alan Koffron, M.D., Director, Transplantation Surgery, Beaumont Hospital-Royal Oak, (left) and Jeffrey Devries, M.D., M.P.H., Director, Graduate Medical Education, Beaumont Health, (right) presented, “Their Voices, Their Stories: Physician’s Roles in Supporting Organ Donation and Transplantation” to OUWB medical students.

Sixteen people a day die while waiting for a transplant. This statistic alone illustrates why the Annual Organ Donor and Bone Marrow Registration Drive is an important event for the OUWB community to organize with student associations on Oakland University’s campus.

To kick off the drive this year, Jeffrey Devries, M.D., M.P.H., Director, Graduate Medical Education, Beaumont Health, and Alan Koffron, M.D., Director, Transplantation Surgery, Beaumont Hospital-Royal Oak, presented, “Their Voices, Their Stories: Physician’s Roles in Supporting Organ Donation and Transplantation” to OUWB medical students to generate awareness of the process and need for organ donors. They dispelled the myths that often prevent healthy people from joining the registry, and emphasized that they wouldn’t put the donor through the risk if the desired outcome were not achievable.

Dr. Koffron, also the OUWB Chair, Department of Surgery, has completed more than 1,000 live donor kidney transplants. He explained that the donor’s risk of dying is one in 10,000.

“In Michigan 241,011 patients are waiting for a transplant,” said Dr. Koffron. “All of the people on this list have loved ones who are waiting for them to survive.”

Improvements in medical care and innovations in medicine have impacted the growing list of names on the transplant list. Dr. Koffron said that since 2010, 10 percent of the hospital’s patients are organ transplant recipients. “Now, I can’t pick them out from the other patients, and the patients are better for it,” he said.

A personal account

Dr. Devries shared with the students that two family members donated parts of their lungs to his wife Sheri by undergoing living donor surgery. He recalled her condition with adult onset cystic fibrosis, and while the transplant surgery was a success, and the family donors recovered, Sheri struggled for six weeks to survive. The fungus became active again in her new lungs, and she developed sepsis, which was fatal.

It is his family’s experience that motivates Dr. Devries to advocate for the organ donor registry. 

“We have a cure, but we need to do a better job of getting people on the donation registry. There is so much good to be done versus the risk of harm or danger,” said Dr. Devries, who is also OUWB Associate Dean, Graduate Medical Education.

Both physicians advised the students to discuss their decision to join the donor registry with their family and close friends.

“Others need to understand your intention to donate, and hear it from you, even if it’s already on your driver’s license,” they said.

Registry results

Event organizers report that they registered 24 new organ donors and 41 new bone marrow donors this fall. The five-year registration totals include 207 organ donors and 132 bone marrow donors.

For more information about being an organ or bone marrow donor, visit giftoflifemichigan.org and bethematch.org. To volunteer for the registration drive, contact Stephanie Swanberg, M.S.I., A.H.I.P., Assistant Professor, Information Literacy & eLearning Librarian, OUWB Medical Library.