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Students use human simulators to practice caring for brain-dead, organ-donor patients

One organ donor can save eight lives, according to the American Transplant Foundation.

The University of Toledo is using state-of-the art simulation technology to help future medical professionals practice how to preserve and protect the organs of patients who suffered traumatic brain injury and brain death.

Using human simulators in the Jacobs Interprofessional Simulation Center, a half a dozen UT graduate students participated last week in a training scenario on caring for brain-dead patients who are organ donors.

“Our students are getting hands-on practice on how to medically manage brain-dead patients in order to recover organs and help save lives of others through donation,” said James Judkins, assistant professor in the Department of Physician Assistant Studies and director of the Human Donation Science Program.

Two of the students who participated in the mock scenario, Riley Messer and Dylan Launder, thought the experience was not only beneficial, but unique.

“Actually coming into the Sim Center allows us to have real-time experience … and understanding,” Riley said.

Dylan added, “We’re there advocating for the donor that everything possible is done [to save her or him]. If we come on and we see that this test might have been done wrong, we are not just going to ignore it, we’re going to say, ‘You might want to redo it’ because we want to make sure that everything is how it needs to be.”

The students, who are on track to graduate in July with master’s degrees, are studying human donation science in the College of Medicine and Life Sciences.

As part of program curriculum, the students have been learning the principles of medical management in brain death. The use of the Jacobs Interprofessional Simulation Center allows these principles to be applied through the use of human simulators prior to going on clinical rotations in spring.