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AOPO Annual Meeting Results in New Ideas on How to Save More Lives
New AOPO President Barry Massa Outlines Vision for Coming Year
McLean, VA. (July 7, 2022) – The rooms were packed, the speakers were insightful, and collaboration abounded at the Association of Organ Procurement Organizations’ (AOPO) 39th Annual Meeting recently in Phoenix, Arizona. This is where the OPO community shared information about new technologies and successful practices that save more lives and contribute to the goal of 50,000 annual organ transplants in 2026.
New AOPO President Barry Massa, Executive Director of LifeCenter Organ Donor Network, officially took the reins and laid out his commitment to:
- Transparency – foster an environment of honest, open, and respectful dialogue with straightforward and inclusive communication.
- Collaboration – the power of working together as dedicated partners teaching, learning, and sharing best practices to achieve our collective goals.
- DEI – appreciate and celebrate our differences and endeavor to provide opportunities for all members to contribute to our success.
- Passion – relentlessly pursue our mission advocating for those we serve.
“The collaboration I saw at the meeting among OPOs and our other community partners was impressive and illustrated what we can achieve when we work together and share information,” says Massa. “We will continue to work with our stakeholders and help guide improvements that help OPOs to build on their efforts to improve their outcomes and move to higher performance tiers.”
Key Findings for OPOs in National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine (NASEM) Report
Leigh Anne Dageforde, MD, MPH, Transplant Surgeon at Massachusetts General Hospital and a member of the NASEM committee that drafted the recent report on equity in the organ donation and transplantation system, presented key recommendations on how OPOs can prepare to implement the report findings. This included discussion on ways to achieve equity, improve organ utilization, create system-wide performance metrics, and engage patients in the organ donor process. Many of the objectives align with a recent letter AOPO sent to Secretary Xavier Becerra of the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to highlight areas within the NASEM report that AOPO believes should be of immediate focus as HHS develops its action strategy.
OPO, Donor Hospital, and Transplant Center Collaborations Optimize Kidneys for Transplant
AOPO Medical Advisor Marty Sellers, MD, MPH, Organ Recovery Surgeon at Tennessee Donor Services, and UNOS President Matthew Cooper, MD, Director of Kidney and Pancreas Transplantation at Medstar Georgetown Transplant Institute, shared the current state of kidney donation and transplantation in the U.S. They emphasized how the underutilization of kidneys unnecessarily prolongs dialysis for candidates, results in waitlist mortality, and negatively impacts transplantation rates. The speakers discussed steps being taken through the AOPO 50K goal, NASEM report, and the CMS-led End Stage Renal Disease Treatment Choices Learning Collaborative (ETCLC) initiative to focus on greater utilization of kidneys.
Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) Initiatives Lead to More Unbiased Donation System
Speakers Clive Callender, MD, renowned transplant surgeon and medical Professor at Howard University, Joe Ferreira, CEO and President of Nevada Donor Network, and Ieesha Johnson, Director, Community Outreach at the Living Legacy Foundation of Maryland (LLF), shared the history of advancing DEI in the organ donation and transplantation community and future initiatives to make the system more equitable. Dr. Callender shared details on AOPO’s newly initiated collaboration with historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs) to provide pathways for Black medical students to pursue a career in organ donation and transplantation, as well as outreach efforts to continue educating communities of color about the gift of life. Ms. Johnson spoke about the Decision Project that the LLF designed and implemented in their communities to empower people to make an educated decision about organ, eye, and tissue donation and then share that decision with their families. Additionally, Mr. Ferreira presented the work of AOPO’s DEI Committee and its strategy to help OPOs on their DEI journey.
Strategies to Increases Donation After Circulatory Determination of Death (DCDD)
OPO speakers presented strategies to increase DCDD to save more lives, which included optimizing clinical practices, staffing structures, acute care hospital and transplant program relationships, and increased approaches for authorization.
Important Components of Donor Care Unit (DCU) Models
OPOs shared different DCU models implemented to better serve donors and families, increase cost effectiveness, and foster advancement in organ rehabilitation and donor intervention research.
Improvement in Action: The Launch of the IMPACT Program
The OPO IMPACT Committee provided an overview of the new AOPO program that will assess OPOs in the core areas of operations, donation drivers, donation system, and transplant rate, providing recommendations for performance improvement. This identifies where OPOs need to improve and matches them with other OPOs that can help them to advance in those areas. The goal is to help OPOs to move into higher tiers and stay certified.
“There are a lot of changes to look forward to in the coming year and I am pleased to be helping to lead transformations during this important time,” says Massa.
The Association of Organ Procurement Organizations (AOPO) is the not-for-profit trade association leading the nation’s organ donation community to save and improve lives through organ, eye, and tissue donation. Founded in 1984, AOPO advances organ donation and transplantation by driving continual improvement of the donation process, collaborating with stakeholders, and sharing successful practices with their OPO members. The vision of AOPO is to pursue the day when every donation opportunity results in lives saved. For more information, please visit www.aopo.org.