When it comes to organ donations, Colorado is one of the most giving states.
On the Western Slope, however, the percentage of people who actually donate at death is dismal.
When most people think donating organs, they typically think hearts and kidneys.
What some people may not realize is the most commonly used donation is tissue like skin, bones, and tendons
Dr. John Storheim says, "It helps with grieving to know that some part of that individual is going on to either fight the fight against the disease that took or ravished their lives, or that it’s going to help another individual in some way."
Dr. John Storheim is an anesthesiologist at St. Mary's Hospital. He’s also the president and CEO of Rocky Mountain Donor Services, a fairly new organization recovering tissue from donors and using it to help save thousands of lives.
"That could be a burn victim that needs a skin transplant. It could be someone that's torn a portion of their knee or shoulder," Dr. Storheim explained.
But he says research is where there's an even greater need for tissue donations. Pharmaceuticals, medications, and therapies are all tested on human tissue first.
"It’s a very magnanimous type of gesture to say that you are willing to let your tissue be used for the betterment of someone else," Dr. Storheim said.
When you say yes to be an organ donor at the DMV, you're saying yes to not only organs but any tissue in your body.
"We want to make it clear the good that can come from it,” Dr. Storheim said. “We’re not going to step on the families wishes, even if that was the deceased wished."
Rocky Mountain Donor Services works closely with Community Hospital and the coroner's office. Whether donated tissue is used for a transplant or research, the organization says it's making sure some of it benefits those in need locally.
"We thought that this was an under served part of medicine and we just wanted to see that change," Dr. Storheim said.
For more information on Rocky Mountain Donor Services call (970)712-5340