Organization Performs Tissue Transplants Throughout Alaska
Organ transplants not performed at Alaska hospitals, however
ANCHORAGE - Kidney disease was killing John Hanrath.
But a transplant in 2005, followed by a pancreas transplant a year later, saved his life.
"Quite frankly my life as I knew it was over. I didn't have any energy I could not have cared less about going forward with a lot of things,” said Hanrath, while playing his guitar in his home in Anchorage.
"When you get a kidney transplant, or any transplant for that matter, it gives you a new lease on life,” said Hanrath
“It makes you want to give back for all those things you took for granted".
Hanrath is now the Executive Director of Intervention Helpline
There are around 120 Alaskans on the national waiting list for life saving organs.
Many of those patients are in Seattle or other Lower 48 states waiting because Alaska hospitals don't perform organ transplants.
"Unfortunately with Alaska's population we just don't have the facilities to support a full organ transplant program up here,” said Glenn Borkoski, the donations coordinator with Life Alaska Donor Services, the tissue donation organization serving the state.
They do, however, perform other tissue transplants, around 1,000 every year.
“We’ll go throughout the state and if there's a donor in Ketchikan, we fly to Ketchikan and do the recovery there,” said Borkoski.
Bones, skin, corneas and veins for cardiac surgeries are just some of the things Borkoski is responsible for getting to recipients.
Life Alaska says about a thousand Alaskans receive tissue transplants every year.
“Providence [Hospital] says we need an Achilles tendon; we will sell them the Achilles tendon for transplant," said Borkoski.
There are more than 422,000 people are registered in the Alaska Donor Registry.