New pilot program in Carmel hopes to enhance lives through tissue donations

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CARMEL, Ind. – A new pilot program in Carmel involving tissue donors is the first of its kind in the state.

This innovative idea could help enhance the lives of hundreds of people.

It is all through a partnership between the fire department and the Indiana Donor Network.

“What donation brings to families is that light at the end of a really dark tunnel,” said Sue Finkam, the director of external engagement for IDN.

Finkam is also a city council member in Carmel. She said organ donations can only take place at a hospital or if the person is on a ventilator. Typically, that was the case for tissue donations too.

“We looked across the country for models for ways we can increase tissue donation,” she said.

She teamed up with the Carmel Fire Department to change things. Now if someone passes away outside of a hospital, Carmel firefighters and paramedics can make a referral to the IDN.

The department fills out a form on a tablet and gives the center a call.

“Once the donor network finds out that someone has passed, then they can look and see if that individual was a donor. Then they can start that process,” said Tim Griffin with the CFD.

The process continues once the team finds out the person is medically eligible to donate tissue.

It’s believed one organ donor can save the lives of eight people, and one tissue donor can help enhance the lives of 75.

“Skin to help burn victims, bone to help those with bone cancer, arteries and veins, those help with cardiovascular diseases,” she said.

Finkam said it is a way to help hundreds of families who would not have been helped otherwise.

The pilot program started in June, and so far, IDN has received five referrals. About 1,700 Hoosiers were tissue donors last year. This program could help more people fulfill that final wish and enhance lives.

If you would like to register your donation decision, click here.

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