When it comes to the topic of organ donation and transplantation, it’s no secret that time is always of the essence. For many people on organ transplant waiting lists, time is often the determining factor between life and death. If a suitable donor is found in time, a successful transplant can be made, and they will have a chance to live their life to the fullest. On the other hand, if there are delays or red tape that hold up finding a donor, potential recipients may never get the lifesaving transplant they need.
OPOs, or Organ Procurement Organizations, are non-profit organizations that are responsible for recovering organs from deceased donors for transplantation in the United States. OPOs play an important role when it comes to assessing donor potential, collecting and sharing accurate clinical information, and following any national policies that are in place. the work of Organ Procurement Organizations can help to expedite the process of finding suitable matches for those on waiting lists, which inevitably saves lives. For every successful donor match, the OPO will facilitate the authorization, testing, recovery of donor organs, and delivery to the transplant hospital.
Important Organ Donation Stats
While many healthcare professionals, administrators, and directors are aware that the organ donation process could be more streamlined and there are issues with waitlists and other elements of the process, most are unaware of the actual statistics. When you take a closer look at the real numbers, it becomes apparent how crucial finding suitable donors and performing successful transplants really is.
Here’s a list of some important organ donation stats from the HRSA website:
- There are currently more than 106,000 people on the national transplant waiting list
- 17 people die every day waiting for an organ transplant
- In 2021, more than 40,000 organ transplants were performed
- Another person is added to the transplant waiting list every 9 minutes
- Every donor can save 8 lives
- As of February 2022, about 83% of the people waiting for organ transplants were waiting for kidneys
The Organ Procurement Organization Process
There are several important steps in the OPO process that must be followed to ensure everything is done legally and with a degree of moral responsibility Considering the delicate nature of the subject matter. Here are the steps that are followed:
OPO Donor Referral – The organ donation process begins when someone passes away in the hospital, and an Organ Procurement Organization is notified. At this point, the OPO has the opportunity to learn more about the person that has died and whether or not the family is open to organ donation.
Donor Evaluation – When it comes to donating organs, people who are eligible for organ donation can only come from a hospital. In the second step of the process, the OPO evaluates the donor by taking the location into consideration, as well as other factors, including the cause of death, medical history, and others, to determine if they are eligible to donate.
Consent and Authorization – Once the determination of suitability has been made, it’s time to get consent. If the deceased is a registered organ donor, then this decision counts as consent for being a potential donor. If the deceased was not registered as an organ donor or if they are a minor, then the decision must be made by a family member.
Continued Evaluation – After the consent has been received, there is an evaluation process that takes place directly with the family of the donor. The family members are asked specific questions about the health and behaviors of the organ donor, as it is crucial to try and determine if there may be any potential issues for the person receiving the donor organ. This evaluation may also determine the specific organs or tissue the donor is able to donate.
Medical Tests – Medical testing needs to be done on any organs that have been procured for donation to determine if there is any cancer, infections, or other medical issues that could affect the transplant or the recipient’s future with the organ.
Organ Maintenance – Once the medical testing has been completed, the focus switches to maintaining the organs and keeping them viable. It’s critical that the organs continue to receive the proper amount of blood and oxygen, and there is typically a medical professional assigned to this task.
Organ Matching – At this point, the all-important job of finding a suitable match begins. The OPO will work with various organ service organizations, waiting list databases, and transplant hospitals to find recipients, then the information about the organ is sent to the potential recipient’s surgeon. Based on the information that’s provided by the OPO, the surgeon will either accept or deny the donor organ.
Caring for the Donor – One of the final steps in the process that should never be taken for granted is caring for the donor to ensure the organs are removed safely and efficiently and that the body’s appearance is not altered. When done correctly, the family can still have an open casket funeral, if desired.
The Specialist Direct Difference
At Specialist Direct, we provide telepathology services for OPOs that can revolutionize the biopsy interpretation process, especially as it pertains to liver and kidney transplant cases. When you consider the staggering waiting lists for kidney transplants mentioned above, telepathology has the potential to make a massive difference.
The primary benefit of telepathology is the time it saves without having to sacrifice anything in the way of quality and professionalism. Through the use of telepathology scanners, digital scans of potential organ donor cells can be taken and sent to any pathologist in any location around the world. The organ tissue samples have been digitally scanned at a resolution that’s high enough to provide accurate analysis, making it possible to get the green light for an organ transplant within minutes.
When Organ Procurement Organizations, Medical Directors, Directors of Organ Services, and others involved in the organ donation and transplantation process take advantage of our telepathology services, the process can be simplified, and more lives can be saved.
Get in touch with us today to learn more.