Organ procurement organizations play a major role in organ donation. Learn about how these organizations work and what they do through this guide.
Current statistics show that one donor’s gift of organs, tissue, or bone can save up to 8 lives. Unfortunately, in the U.S. alone, 20 people die every day awaiting a transplant.
Available donor lists have expanded over the last ten years thanks to Organ Procurement Organizations (OPOs).
These non-profit organizations provide the “face” of organ transplants for donors and their loved ones. OPO trained personnel provide service and support to families and individuals facing a tough decision. That is, to give the gift of life.
In addition, these organizations recruit donors with educational events designed to inform. Though some are in department of motor vehicle (DMV) organ donor databases, this list pales in comparison to the enormous need.
Organ donations can be gifted by families who have a loved one on life support. OPO personnel offer in-person support and education on possible donation opportunities.
Hospitals report deaths to Organ Procurement Organizations for possible donation. Organization representatives then work with families and loved ones to decide on donation. Once the decision is made, OPO’s assist with bereavement counseling and services.
With more than 120,000 patients awaiting donation in the US alone, the registry of donors is a mere fraction of the need. “Living Donations” are also part of the registry. These are people who can donate much-needed tissue, kidneys, or bone marrow while still alive. OPO’s are non-profit organizations and operate similarly to non-profit hospitals and health centers.
How Organ Procurement Organizations are Funded
Reimbursement for the harvested donation is provided by the hospital performing the transplant through the receiving patient’s healthcare insurance. In most cases, this is Medicare, in which the cost is fixed.
Organ Procurement Organizations also engage in fundraising. These funds are strictly used to provide outreach to recruit more donors.
How Donors and Recipients are Matched
Working from the United Network for Organ Sharing (UNOS), patients requiring a transplant are added to a national registry.
The wait for a donation is based on current health, and the “fit” needed for a successful transplant. For example:
- Blood type
- Current medical condition
- Identification of a suitable donor
- Proximity to attending hospital
Donors are located through a similar criteria as well as the location of both the donor and the recipient. Below is the length of time donor organs or tissue will last according to established criteria:
- Kidney: 24-36 hours
- Heart/Lung: 4-6 hours
- Liver: 8-12 hours
- Pancreas: 12-18 Hours
In addition, both the donation and recipient must be close enough to the receiving hospital so the donation is healthy enough for surgery.
Organ Procurement Organizations operate in a region or state to ensure timeliness. Ensuring a match through careful, yet expedited diagnostics is crucial.
It Takes a Team
There are only hours to spare and lives are at stake in this process. OPO personnel must be sensitive to the needs of family members as well as the clinical needs of the recipient.
Coordination with the team providing the transplant surgery is also imperative. Doctors, hospitals, and medical providers require opinions of Board-Certified specialists. Our HIPAA compliant telehealth technology and services are here for that need. Please contact us with any questions.