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AOPO Survey Finds Ingenuity and Collaboration Contribute to Record Transplantation Rates 

McLean, VA. (October 6, 2021) – The Association of Organ Procurement Organizations (AOPO) announced today that a majority of its organ procurement organization (OPO) members have cultivated and/or adopted new technology and innovations, contributing to the increase in organ transplants recently reported by the United Network for Organ Sharing (UNOS) and putting the community on track to exceed the government’s transplant goals.  

“We are excited that our members are positioned to exceed transplant goals, thanks in part to new and innovative technology and processes. While this is an amazing accomplishment, OPOs believe we can do better which is why we have committed to 50,000 annual transplants by 2026,” says Jan Finn, RN, MSN, AOPO President, and President and Chief Executive Officer, Midwest Transplant Network. “Success will be achieved through community-wide improvement by expanding collaborations among OPOs and other stakeholders, reducing health inequities to improve access in diverse communities, maximizing organ utilization by transplant centers, and driving research and innovations.” 

Recently, UNOS announced that the United States is on track to exceed 40,000 organ transplants by the year-end. This represents an 11% increase in the number of organ transplants from deceased donors from the previous year. These are world-leading transplantation rates and are the result of collaborations between OPOs and stakeholder partners to improve the productivity of the organ donation and transplantation system. A recent informal survey of AOPO members revealed that OPOs are continuing to advance practices to save more lives.  Examples include: 

    • To date, 12 OPOs are utilizing an organ tracking service started this summer by UNOS, and more are expected to adopt this service that ensures the safe transport of organs between the donor hospital and transplant center. A device is attached to the organ packaging that allows OPOs and transplant hospitals to view the precious cargo on a map in real-time and notify key staff upon arrival.  
    • OPOs are partnering with organizations, such as MissionGo, to utilize unmanned aircraft drones as a solution to transfer organs to waiting recipients faster and more reliably. This year, The Living Legacy Foundation participated in a flight demonstration to transport blood for fast-track lab testing and LifeSource helped transport the world’s first human pancreas via unmanned aircraft.  
    • OPOs are partnering with donor management systems, such as Transplant Connect and LifeLogics, to improve the donor identification and referral process to expedite hospital operations and optimize OPO performance.  
    • OPOs are also using new organ preservation technology to extend the time an organ is viable between recovery and transplantation. The University of Minnesota’s organ cryopreservation technology, is an example, which is revolutionizing how organs are stored, shipped and used in surgeries. 
    • OPOs are continuing to implement and expand donation after cardiac death (DCD), an innovative method to procure organs from donors who have suffered a neurological injury but do not meet brain death criteria that will save more lives. 
    • The majority of OPOs will participate in 25 quality improvement teams that are part of the End-Stage Renal Disease Treatment Choices Learning Collaborative. This CMS-funded national effort will share highly effective practices of donor hospitals, OPOs, and transplant centers and is expected to increase the number of deceased donor kidneys transplanted by 15%, decrease the national discard rate from 20% to 15%, and increase kidneys recovered from medically complex donors by 14%. 

“Evidence shows that these efforts are working,” says Steve Miller, CAE, MBA and Chief Executive Officer of AOPO. “According to Organ Procurement and Transplantation Network (OPTN) data, since 2015, deceased organ donation has increased 38%, organs recovered by OPOs have increased 34%, and organs transplanted from deceased donors have grown 32%. These significant successes over a short period of time have led to more patient lives saved.” 

AOPO National Data Infographic Final

AOPO’s members are dedicated to ensuring every organ possible is available for transplantation. Together, with donor families, hospitals, and transplant programs, OPOs continue to pursue the day when every donation opportunity results in a life saved.  

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AOPO is saving and improving lives through organ, eye, and tissue donation, leading the nation’s OPO community through innovation, advocacy, and education. AOPO advances organ donation and transplantation by driving continual improvement, collaborating with stakeholders, and sharing successful practices to save more lives.