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A message from Brian Shepard about an upcoming member survey

UNOS is currently conducting a comprehensive research initiative among our members. Gathering member feedback will help us improve areas that are most important to you and guide our future work.

We have retained the services of an independent research partner, the Southeastern Institute of Research (SIR). SIR serves as an unbiased third party, and will evaluate and compile your responses, ensuring your answers are kept confidential.

In the next few weeks, SIR will be conducting a 12-15 minute online member study on our behalf. Please watch for an upcoming email from SIR inviting you to participate in this study.

Be assured that your responses will be kept strictly confidential. Your individual answers will not be shared with us, but rather combined with those of other respondents and only reported in an aggregate form. We hope this confidentiality will encourage you to be completely candid and direct in your responses.

On behalf of UNOS’ Board of Directors and staff, thank you for your feedback on how we can continue to best serve you.

Thank you,

Brian Shepard
CEO, UNOS

OPTN/UNOS Board of Directors releases Indiana Donor Network and Gulf Coast Medical Center from probation

Richmond, Va. – At a teleconference May 2, 2018, the OPTN/UNOS Board of Directors restored full member privileges for two organizations:

  • Indiana Donor Network, an organ procurement organization coordinating organ donation in 85 of Indiana’s 92 counties
  • Gulf Coast Medical Center, a transplant hospital based in Fort Myers, Fla.

The Board had placed Indiana Donor Network on probation in December 2016 after a routine site survey of records at the organization identified concerns with completeness of documentation in donor charts and adherence to its established quality processes.

The Board had placed Gulf Coast Medical Center on probation in December 2015, after peer review of the hospital revealed concerns with its processes for evaluation of potential living donors.

Both institutions implemented corrective actions and quality reviews and were subject to detailed monitoring by the OPTN Membership and Professional Standards Committee (MPSC). The MPSC concluded that both organizations have made improvements and recommended that the Board of Directors restore their full member privileges.

The Organ Procurement and Transplantation Network (OPTN) brings together medical professionals, transplant recipients and donor families to develop national organ transplantation policy. United Network for Organ Sharing serves as the OPTN under contract with the Department of Health and Human Services, Health Resources and Services Administration.

New booklet advises parents of pediatric transplant patients

A new resource booklet, “What Every Parent Needs to Know,” is available for parents and caregivers of children and adolescents who need or receive an organ transplant. The OPTN/UNOS Patient Affairs Committee spearheaded the booklet’s development in collaboration with a number of transplant professionals and parents of organ transplant recipients*.

The booklet explains the transplant process from a parent’s viewpoint. It addresses issues before and during a transplant such as financial concerns and explaining deceased donation to a child, as well as guidance on helping children manage life after a transplant. It addresses a number of concepts and terms relating to transplantation and provides references to other helpful resources.

* The Patient Affairs Committee also wishes to thank the following organizations for reviewing the booklet:

  • American Liver Foundation
  • American Society of Transplantation
  • Anne & Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital of Chicago
  • Children’s Cardiomyopathy Foundation
  • Children’s Organ Transplant Association
  • International Pediatric Transplant Association
  • National Kidney Foundation
  • Pediatric Heart Transplant Study

Smithfield Foods Donation Helps Fund the Development of Life-saving Technology

United Network for Organ Sharing (UNOS) has received a 75,000 challenge grant from The Smithfield Foundation, the philanthropic arm of Smithfield Foods, Inc., to fund a proof of concept phase for UNOS’ Timely Donor Referralsm technology pilot. Smithfield will match dollar-for-dollar all donations made to UNOS for the program, up to $75,000.

UNOS serves as the nation’s organ transplant system, matching donated organs with the more than 100,000 men, women, and children awaiting lifesaving organ transplants. UNOS members encompass every transplant hospital, tissue-matching laboratory, and organ procurement organization in the United States, as well as voluntary health and professional societies, ethicists, transplant patients, and organ donor advocates.

The Timely Donor Referralsm technology project’s goal is to change the inefficient manual processes utilized by hospital staff in the nation’s 5,500 donor hospitals when notifying of a potential organ donor. Automated technology will more quickly, securely, and reliably exchange highly time-sensitive information between the donor hospital and one of the nation’s 58 Organ Procurement Organizations (OPOs). The dynamic outcome of this project could exponentially increase the number of lifesaving organs available for transplantation.

“We’re tremendously grateful to Smithfield and all of our Timely Donor Referralsm project donors for helping us to realize our goal of easing access to critical transplant information,” said Brian Shepard, chief executive officer of UNOS. “Once developed, this technology will mean more organs recovered and transplanted, higher data quality and information security, and time and dollars saved. Ultimately, it will mean more lives saved.”

The Timely Donor Referralsm pilot project will build technology to integrate with the varied electronic medical record (EMR) systems used by the nation’s health systems. Over the next several months, UNOS will form a collaborative team of OPOs, hospitals, and EMR vendors. During the proof of concept phase they will identify, develop, and test solutions, as well as analyze the cost benefits and expense for a national implementation of this solution.

“Smithfield is proud to support UNOS and believes its mission to advance organ availability and transplantation is incredibly important to the improvement of public health,” said Keira Lombardo, senior vice president of corporate affairs for Smithfield Foods and president of the Smithfield Foundation. “We look forward to seeing the life-saving benefits of this platform and commend UNOS on its innovative approach to advancing technology in health care.”

The Smithfield Foundation’s challenge grant provides an exciting opportunity for UNOS to obtain the needed funding to develop this technology. Individuals, corporations, and foundations interested in making a philanthropic investment in this project can contact UNOS or make a gift online. These gifts will be matched dollar-for-dollar by the Smithfield Foundation, up to $75,000.

UNOS celebrates 34th anniversary founding

United Network for Organ Sharing (UNOS) was founded March 21, 1984, by the leadership of the South-Eastern Organ Procurement Foundation (SEOPF). UNOS was intended to become the nation’s organ transplant network, an idea that was still in development as Congress worked on the National Organ Transplant Act. To some degree, it was a leap of faith, given that the eventual contract for the Organ Procurement and Transplantation Network (OPTN) wasn’t awarded until two years later.

In the early 1980s, organ transplantation in the United States was evolving rapidly. The pioneers of transplantation had proven that it could save and lengthen lives. But much of the science of transplantation and medical management of transplant recipients was still developing. And many transplant programs were just beginning to open up, increasing local access to care for patients across the country.

Some transplant professionals wanted to keep the field much as it had been since the 1960s. Others, including the founders of UNOS, saw the need to bring the field together in a national network, both to increase equity for transplant patients and to collect and use national data to improve transplant care. Even today, there remains healthy debate inside and outside the transplant profession about how we can best meet the needs of the patients we serve.

In the 34 years since UNOS’ founding, many things have changed. Long-term outcomes for transplant recipients have increased significantly, driven by better knowledge about matching donors with recipients and advances in treating patients both before and after the transplant. Innovations in communications technology and data analysis have revolutionized how organ offers are made and what information clinicians have in real time to make treatment decisions.

Some things remain the same. Transplantation is still the most complex form of medical care available. It relies on the cooperative efforts and skill of clinicians and professionals at different institutions anywhere in the United States, working at any hour of the day or night. And despite everyone’s best efforts, there are still many more people awaiting transplantation today than there are donated organs to meet their needs.

UNOS’ mission also remains the same, as does the focus and dedication of its staff and members. We do all we can to help those in need receive the gift of life. And we will continue to do so as long as that need exists.

OPTN/UNOS Board members named

Richmond, Va. — Members of the national organ donation and transplantation community have elected 25 members to the OPTN/UNOS board of directors, including a new president, vice-president/president-elect, vice president for patient and donor affairs and secretary. United Network for Organ Sharing (UNOS) serves as the Organ Procurement and Transplantation Network (OPTN) under federal contract.

All board members are volunteers and serve terms ranging from one to three years, depending on the office to which they are elected. Their terms of service begin on July 1, 2018.

Sue Dunn, RN, B.S.N., M.B.A., currently the Vice President/President-Elect, will assume the presidency. She is president and chief executive officer of Donor Alliance in Denver.

Maryl Johnson, M.D., will become the Vice President/President-Elect. She is professor of medicine, heart failure and heart transplantation at the University of Wisconsin Hospitals and Clinics.

Deanna Santana, B.S., will become the Vice President for Patient and Donor Affairs. She is senior public education coordinator at Sierra Donor Services in Sacramento, Calif. She is also a donor mother and a living donor.

Theresa Daly, M.S., RN, B.S.N., FNP, will become the Secretary. She is director of transplant clinical operations at New York Presbyterian/Columbia Medical Center.

Other newly elected members are as follows:

Immediate Past President – Yolanda Becker, M.D., University of Chicago Medicine

Region 3 Councillor – Christopher Anderson, M.D., University of Mississippi Medical Center

Region 4 Councillor – Steven Potter, M.D., FACS, East Texas Medical Center

Region 5 Councillor – Kunam Reddy, M.D., Mayo Clinic, Phoenix

Region 6 Councillor – Susan Orloff, M.D., FACS, AASLD, Oregon Health & Science University

Region 9 Councillor – Rob Kochik, Finger Lakes Donor Recovery Network

At Large Abdominal Surgery Representative –, Rene Romero, M.D., Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta

At Large Hepatology Representative – Simon Horslen, M.B., Ch.B., Seattle Children’s Hospital

At Large Nephrology Representatives:
Eileen Brewer, M.D., Texas Children’s Hospital
Jerry McCauley, M.D., M.P.H., FACP, Thomas Jefferson University Hospital

At Large Pulmonology Representative – Marc Schecter, M.D., Children’s Hospital Medical Center, Cincinnati

At Large Transplant Administrator Representative – Timothy Stevens, RN, B.S.N. CCTC, Sacred Heart Medical Center

OPO Representative – Diane Brockmeier, RN, B.S.N., M.H.A., Mid-America Transplant Services

Histocompatibility Representative – Walter Herczyk, MT, CHS, Gift of Life Michigan Histocompatibility Laboratory

Transplant Coordinator Representative – Mary Francois, RN, M.S., CCTC, NATCO

Medical/Scientific Organization Representatives:
Sharon Bartosh, M.D., University of Wisconsin Hospital and Clinics
Charles Miller, M.D., Cleveland Clinic Foundation

Patient and Donor Affairs Representatives:
Randee Bloom, Ph.D., M.B.A., RN
Rosemary Berkery, J.D.
Laura DePiero, RN, B.S.N.
Joseph Hillenburg