AOPO’s Donor Remembrance Day Shines Light on Organ Donation Heroes

April is the time for new life brought about by Spring. So it’s timely that the Association of Organ Procurement Organizations (AOPO) and the organ donation community take this time to educate the public about organ donation with the goal of increasing the number of donor registrations and ultimately saving more lives on the transplant waitlist. This year even the White House is joining this effort with President Joe Bidden proclaiming April as National Donate Life Month.

Remembering Those Who Donated to Save Lives

In coordination with Donate Life Month, AOPO facilitates a Donor Remembrance Day on April 30. This observance is an opportunity to honor and celebrate Donor Heroes who have donated organs resulting in new life for those in need of organ transplants. Donor families and transplant recipients can “plant” a forget-me-not flower dedication in the virtual Remembrance Garden, sharing the impact organ donation had on them personally. Each year, we continue to see an increase in those giving the precious gift of organ, eye, and tissue donation. How do we do this, you might ask? Through organ procurement organization (OPO) collaboration and keeping our eye on our 50,000 campaign goal.

50,000 Organ Transplants in 2026 Campaign

AOPO and its members are working with key stakeholders toward our collective vision to pursue the day when every donation opportunity results in lives saved by implementing a series of initiatives to:

  1. Expand collaboration across the AOPO membership and among all stakeholders
  2. Reduce health inequities to improve accessibility of organ transplants in minority communities
  3. Maximize organ utilization by transplant programs
  4. Drive innovation to increase donation and maximize transplantation

Reaching this goal requires focused performance improvement in all aspects of organ donation and transplantation, from the early interaction of caregivers with donors and donor families to the transplant and care for patients receiving the gift of donation. Already, a coordinated approach using innovative technologies and known successful practices has enabled us to begin increasing donors and optimizing all donation opportunities. According to the latest OPTN data, transplants from all donor types are already over 10,000 as of April 2022, up slightly from last year.

With sustained, incremental growth in donation, the measure of OPO performance relies on an integrated system to continue saving more lives. We recognize that OPOs are one piece of a larger system and true success comes from hospitals, OPOs, and transplant programs working together toward this common goal.

NASEM Report Identifies National Goals for System Improvement

In line with our 50,000 campaign, recently, the National Academy of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine (NASEM) Committee on A Fairer and More Equitable, Cost-Effective, and Transparent System of Donor Organ Procurement, Allocation, and Distribution released a report on its assessment of the organ donation and transplantation system. The report offered recommendations for donor hospitals, OPOs, transplant centers, and the Organ Procurement and Transplantation Network (OPTN) to improve system-wide performance, equity, and organ utilization.

We were pleased to see that the report tied into our 50,000 Annual Organ Transplants in 2026 campaign with some of the same goals and recommendations. Specifically, the NASEM report calls for the need to:

  • Improve equity within the organ donation and transplantation system
  • Increase the number of donated organs used for transplant
  • Improve the system and system performance

The NASEM report is yet another way that the organ procurement community is collaborating to save more lives. By expert stakeholders working together to identify and fix issues within the system, we will ensure our organ donation and transplantation system remains the best in the world.

As I close, I hope you will take the time to view some of the donor remembrances that are posted in our Donor Hero Remembrance Garden. We want to spread the word about the significant difference a donor hero can make.

Steve Miller, MBA, CAE

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