VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. (June 2, 2021) — LifeNet Health, the federally designated Organ Procurement Organization (OPO) that facilitates organ donation and transplantation throughout Virginia, is collaborating with the United Network for Organ Sharing (UNOS) to improve the way organs are transported in the United States.
As a beta test participant for UNOS’ Organ Tracking Service, LifeNet Health volunteered to provide crucial feedback while using the service to monitor precious organs from donors in its Virginia service area to ensure they arrive safely to transplant hospitals. It was among 15 of the nation’s 57 OPOs to participate in the pilot phase.
“This program allows us to use technology to know even more precisely where an organ is during every moment of its travel from the donor to the transplant center,” said Todd Hubler, Vice President and Executive Director of the LifeNet Health OPO. “It provides extra certainty that the gifts we’re entrusted with are being transported safely and efficiently to patients awaiting a second chance at a healthy life.”
While a transplant team accompanies many organs during travel, some organs — such as kidneys — are transported by secure commercial and medical carriers. For them, the tracking system provides an additional layer of assurance that the organ is safely on its way.
UNOS is now offering the service for all OPOs after more than a year of developing, testing and improving the service based on direct feedback from the OPOs that participated in the test. The UNOS Organ Tracking Service utilizes GEGO Internet of Things (IoT) technology and is integrated into the systems that OPOs already use to package and label organs for transport and that hospitals use to view organs available for their patients.
“We built this service around the needs of the organ procurement organizations who are responsible for transporting organs recovered in their service area,” said UNOS Labs Program Manager Casey Humphries. The OPOs’ involvement helped ensure that the service works smoothly with their processes while also meeting the needs of transplant centers and their patients.
LifeNet Health’s participation in the test program demonstrates its commitment to leveraging technologies to enhance the way it meets the needs of patients and hospitals. “We are proud to work closely with UNOS and other OPOs to further strengthen how organs are transported,” said Rony Thomas, President and CEO of LifeNet Health, which has facilitated a record number of transplants in Virginia for each of the last three years. “This initiative reflects the teamwork and collaboration that donation and transplantation require, as well as our collective dedication to being diligent stewards of these gifts by continually improving the ways we work.”
As the mission-driven, non-profit organization that works with the organ donation and transplantation community to save lives through transplantation, UNOS is solely focused on making more lifesaving transplants available, safely and equitably, to patients in need. “Providing organ procurement and transplant professionals tools that enable them to work more efficiently and save more lives is at the core of what we do,” said Humphries.