AOPO Supports the Passage of the FAA Reauthorization Bill

The Association of Organ Procurement Organizations (AOPO) applauds Congress’ recent passage of the bipartisan, bicameral Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) reauthorization bill, sending the legislation to President Biden’s desk ahead of Friday’s deadline to reauthorize FAA authorities. Passage of the legislation marks a significant victory for the organ donation and transplantation community as the bill includes a provision that will improve the safety and efficiency of transporting donor organs through commercial flights.

The aviation industry plays a vital role in organ transplants. Organs, particularly kidneys, travel by commercial airlines to transplant centers and recipients. Since the September 11 attacks, federal regulations required that organs be classified as cargo, flying under the plane with checked baggage instead of in the main cabin and under aircrew supervision. Under these conditions, like airline passengers, organs are subject to limited flight availability, flight delays, and missed connections which can have grave consequences for transplant patients. 

The provision will establish a working group to include OPOs and other professionals in donation, transplantation, and aviation to identify best practices and challenges in transporting organs on commercial airlines. This group will then submit recommendations to the Secretary of Transportation to advance the safety and efficiency of donor organ transportation on commercial flights.

The inclusion of this provision is due in large part to the consistent advocacy of the organ donation and transplantation community, of which AOPO is a leader. AOPO commends Congress for passing the provision and urges President Biden to sign the bill so the work can begin on ensuring more timely and effective means for transporting organs to patients in need.