Key parts of the organ procurement process in post-mortem organ donation require the services of a pathologist. We take a look at why this is so important, and how telepathology can benefit this process.
Technology has given rise to a new class of workers who work remotely. Medical professionals are no exception.
Telepathology can make sure that surgeons and other medical professionals always have access to a pathologist. This emerging field holds the potential to make organ procurement far more efficient.
Technology has offered the world a large variety of potential benefits. The medical world is seeing a revolution that can change the way it approaches these issues. With the help of technology, we can potentially make quicker organ procurements and save more lives.
Following the death of a potential organ donor, the services of a pathologist become vital to the process. Here we will take a look at why it is important to have access to a pathologist during a post-mortem organ donation and how telepathology can aid this process.
The Role of a Pathologist
Pathology is a branch of medicine that deals primarily with the causes and effects of diseases. Often, they work with tissue samples in order to make diagnostic or forensic conclusions.
Forensic pathology deals specifically with forensic data. This is largely to determine causes of death. Pathologists must conduct thorough examinations of organs to make conclusions.
Additionally, if a person is an organ donor, it is the job of a pathologist to determine whether or not the tissues are healthy enough to be transplanted.
What is Telepathology?
Telepathology is the use of technology to transmit pathological data in order to gain a diagnosis. A pathologist will receive medical images or data from biopsies in order to provide surgeons or other medical professionals with advice and opinions.
One of the biggest obstacles faced during the process of organ transplants has been the availability of a pathologist. Without access to a pathologist, a transplant cannot take place. Sometimes, patients would have to travel long distances in order to receive diagnoses.
Telepathology bridges this gap, allowing data to be transmitted instantly. A pathologist that works remotely can quickly make interpretations and give a diagnosis.
Data can be transmitted in three primary ways:
- Static images are captured using a digital camera attached to a microscope.
- Virtual slides are created by scanning digital images of specimen slides.
- An operator remotely controls a motorized robotic microscope. These real-time systems allow the operator to use the microscope as though it were local.
The Post-Mortem Organ Donation
Just because someone is registered as an organ donor, their organs may not necessarily be viable after their death.
In order for someone to become a deceased donor, they usually need to pass in a hospital setting. Usually, they are a victim of a head trauma, aneurysm, stroke, or another illness or accident. They will be placed on mechanical support, and the medical team will do everything possible to keep them alive.
However, the medical team will consider whether or not the individual is a registered donor. If the patient does not make a recovery and is considered brain dead, then the possibility of organ donation comes into play.
The hospital will contact the Organ Procurement Organization (OPO), which will then do a search to find out if the patient is a registered donor. Even if the patient is not a registered donor, a donation may still be authorized by the next of kin.
If a donation is authorized, the OPO will contact the Organ Procurement and Transplantation Network (OPTN) in order to find potential recipients. Each organ is matched to a patient based on tissue and blood types.
Then, the transplant surgeon will determine whether or not the organ in question is suitable.
Aiding the Procurement Process
When a person dies and their organs become available for donation, there are a lot of considerations to make.
A pathologist is useful in determining the cause of death as well as whether or not the tissues are healthy enough to be transplanted. The pathologist may work with the transplant surgeon in order to make a decision.
Additionally, the family of the deceased person may request an autopsy. This is done to help determine the cause of death if it was unclear.
The pathologist will collect tissue samples and photographs to help build the report. The surgical team may also be able to provide important information. Sometimes, this information is far superior to that collected after the body has been refrigerated.
This is where telepathology really becomes useful in the process of post-mortem organ donation.
Sometimes, a hospital pathologist is not available, either because it is after hours or the weekend. The OPO needs to know quickly, however, whether or not an organ or group of organs can be donated.
Telepathology allows the team to send information to the pathologist. The pathologist can then use the information to make any diagnoses and determine whether or not the organ is viable for transplantation.
Speed and accuracy are crucial when placing organs for donation. Telepathology allows these decisions to be made much more quickly than they have in the past. This has been able to reduce waiting lists and save far more lives.
Pushing to Save More Lives
The world of medicine has come a long way since the dawn of time. Modern technology has helped us develop new methods and systems that can help us save as many lives as possible.
There is still debate over regulations and efficiency. As we move forward, hopefully, we can find ways to make sure that all viable organs are matched with transplant recipients.
One day, the goal is to make post-mortem organ donation more efficient and make organ shortages a problem of the past. If you would like to learn more about how technology is changing the face of medicine, visit our blog. There you will find a variety of topics about how telemedicine can save more lives.