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News

Plan now for the next UNOS Primer – October 9 in Minneapolis

A full-day UNOS Primer will be held on October 9 in Minneapolis in conjunction with the Transplant Quality Institute (TQI). UNOS Primers provide transplant professionals a deep look inside the OPTN.

Attend this UNOS Primer and you will:

  • Learn how to effectively use tools available on the UNet Data Services Portal to better manage data quality and compliance
  • Discuss tools that allow you to review organ offers and outcomes of organs refused
  • Find out how UNOS and the SRTR work together and how the data you enter influences SRTR data
  • Find valuable tools, like the OPTN evaluation plan
  • Learn about all the education available free on UNOS Connect
  • Learn how policies are made and how they impact data collection

The American Foundation for Donation and Transplantation is the sponsor of both the UNOS Primer and TQI. While this is the perfect opportunity for TQI attendees, TQI registration is not required to attend the Primer.

See the UNOS Primer agenda, speaker list and session objectives and register here.

Spring 2018 OSRs Upcoming Release, PSRs Delay

The SRTR will release the spring 2018 OPO-specific reports (OSRs) according to its previously anticipated timeline. The secure preview will occur on July.16.2018, and the public release will occur on August 9.2018. However, the release of the program-specific reports (PSRs) is postponed at this time. This delay is due to the Organ Procurement and Transplantation Network (OPTN) experiencing an unanticipated loss of its source for supplemental information identifying whether a patient is currently living or deceased. In April 2018, OPTN began receiving this information again, and is in the process of confirming a large volume of data. All patient status information that is ultimately confirmed will then be incorporated into the OPTN database and will be used in OPTN and SRTR data analyses and reporting, including the PSRs.

As soon as the updated information becomes available, we will announce the PSR release timeline. At that time, we will also offer updated SAFs for researchers who received a SAF release from September 2017, December 2017, March 2018, or June 2018.

This missing information also potentially affects the 2017 Annual Data Report (ADR) development. The anticipated publication date is not available at this time, but we will alert the public as soon as a date is available.

Stay tuned to our website and social media platforms for more information on this matter as it develops. If you have any questions, please contact us at srtr@srtr.org.

Improving the transplant system with collaborative research

UNOS Principal Research Scientist Darren Stewart describes the start of UNOS Labs and talks about the first two experiments on physician offer-acceptance behavior.

 

UNOS staff regularly collaborate with members and industry experts on projects to improve the transplant system and increase the number of transplants performed.

In order to further such work, we created a virtual research center known as UNOS Labs. UNOS Labs is an experimental incubator that brings together data, technology, and industry expertise.

We use UNOS Labs to find out if a transformational idea will work or a hypothesis on ways to improve the transplant is true. It is not an academic exercise or theoretical playground, but a place where we can test products, tools, and methods for insights to improve the system. A project or study must meet the following criteria to be a UNOS Labs study:

  • Experimental – Needs scientific investigation to answer question or test validity
  • Micro-oriented – Starts small with potential to scale to larger system
  • High risk – Lacks sufficient data to know if it’s going to work or fail
  • Data-driven – Relies on newly created data to inform decisions
  • Collaborative –Relies on partnering with industry (transplant and/or non-transplant) experts

Pillars of UNOS Labs

UNOS Labs experiments and projects fall into three major areas.

  1. Technology Innovations – Collaborate with industry leaders to deploy new tools and technologies to strengthen system performance
  2. Behavioral Research – Partner with human behavior experts to study the impacts of human interactions on the system
  3. Data Science – Test new algorithms, types of data, models, and advanced analytics to uncover actionable insights

After UNOS Labs
Work from UNOS Labs will lead down different paths. OPTN committees could use some results to inform policy development. Staff could implement improvements identified into UNet. Some data may identify the need for further research. Other projects could turn into value-added services we offer the transplant community.

To learn how you can be part of UNOS Labs, email us at unos.labs@unos.org.

Upcoming heart allocation policy change

If you are a patient on the national waiting list for a heart, your urgency for a transplant is currently based on three statuses:

  • 1A (most urgent)
  • 1B (somewhat urgent)
  • 2 (least urgent)

As we learn more about heart disease and successful treatment of it, the transplant community determined we needed more specific criteria that reflects a heart patient’s current health and care they are getting. To accommodate these needs, we are making changes to heart policy and the first phase of the new heart allocation policy will take effect on September 18.

Heart candidates can find specific information here about how this change will affect you. You can also download a print version from the website.

OPTN/UNOS Board adopts principles of geographic organ distribution

Richmond, Va. – The OPTN/UNOS Board of Directors, at its meeting June 11-12, adopted a set of principles to guide future organ transplant policy relating to geographic aspects of organ distribution. The Board approved the principles by a vote of 32 in favor and five opposed.

“Geography presents inherent challenges in developing equitable transplant policy for candidates across the nation,” said Yolanda Becker, M.D., president of the OPTN/UNOS Board of Directors. “There are differences in the distribution of transplant centers and in the size and configuration of organ procurement organizations. In addition, there is geographic variability in the concentration of disease patterns that cause organ failure and causes of death that make organ donation possible. Adopting these principles is a necessary first step to address issues of geography in a systematic way.”

The statement of principles reads as follows:

Deceased donor organs are a national resource to be distributed as broadly as feasible. Any geographic constraints pertaining to the principles of organ distribution must be rationally determined and consistently applied.

 

Geographic distribution may be constrained in order to:

  1. Reduce inherent differences in the ratio of donor supply and demand across the country
  2. Reduce travel time expected to have a clinically significant effect on ischemic time and organ quality
  3. Increase organ utilization and prevent organ wastage
  4. Increase efficiencies of donation and transplant system resources

These principles were recommended by the Ad Hoc Geography Committee, which the Board formed in December 2017 to study the issue and make recommendations. The committee will seek public feedback beginning in August on three potential frameworks it has recommended (fixed distance from donor hospital, mathematical optimized distribution areas and borderless distribution), consistent with the principles, that may be used as a basis for future organ distribution policy. Also, at the committee’s recommendation, the Board called for an analysis of current organ distribution policies in reference to the approved principles. The OPTN/UNOS Executive and Policy Oversight Committees may use this analysis to prioritize the future work of relevant committees.

“Among various issues relating to the impacts of organ allocation policies, the Board had a robust discussion of potential effects on vulnerable populations as addressed in federal law and regulation,” added Dr. Becker. “These do not conflict with the geographic distribution principles as approved, and the OPTN will also assess these issues on an ongoing basis.”

The Board also voted to retain the lung distribution policy adopted on an emergent basis in November 2017 by the OPTN/UNOS Executive Committee, while adding a policy option to provide exception priority for highly sensitized lung candidates. The policy removed the local donor service area as the first level of lung distribution, instead establishing the first level as transplant centers located within 250 nautical miles of the donor hospital. This policy will continue to be examined in light of the newly adopted principles of geography.

In other key actions:

  • The Board adopted revisions to OPTN bylaws that outline the process for review of member organizations for compliance with OPTN requirements and for addressing potential issues of quality or patient safety. The revisions clarify the review process and resolve some potentially conflicting details in the prior bylaws.
  • The Board also approved revisions to OPTN requirements for informed consent regarding diseases that may be transmitted from donor to the potential recipient; the updates reduce ambiguity in the medical conditions and test results to be addressed and the processes involved in communication.

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.

UNOS announces 2018 National Donor Memorial Award winner

United Network for Organ Sharing (UNOS) named Terry Murray of Olney, Md., the winner of its 2018 National Donor Memorial Award for Excellence in recognition of her untiring efforts as a donation advocate. Murray TerryTerry has long understood the importance of organ donation and transplantation. Her mother donated a kidney to her brother in 1977. Twenty-two years later Terry’s husband, Alan, died from a tragic fall and became a tissue donor. Donation helped Terry and her children cope with their loss. When Terry retired from teaching school in 2003, she felt compelled to educate high school students about what it means to be a donor. Every year Terry presents to all 26 Montgomery County, MD., high schools. In the past 15 years, she has volunteered almost 1,000 hours to promote donation. “Educating young people about the importance of organ, eye and tissue donation is essential to increasing the number of lives saved through organ transplantation,” said UNOS President Yolanda Becker, M.D. “Terry’s continued work with Maryland high school students has directly increased donor registrations in the state.” UNOS established the National Donor Memorial Award for Excellence in 2010 to recognize exceptional advocates who promote organ donation and transplantation. UNOS solicits nominations for the award from the organ procurement organizations and transplant centers in the United States. Terry was nominated by Washington Regional Transplant Community. Previous winners have been donor family members, a social worker/donation advocate, a liver recipient, and the sister of a heart recipient. UNOS, a private, nonprofit organization, unites and supports the organ donation and transplantation community nationwide through organ placement, research, technology, policy development and education. UNOS serves as the nation’s Organ Procurement and Transplantation Network (OPTN) under federal contract. As the OPTN, it matches lifesaving organs with people awaiting transplants nationwide and manages the national database of medical information about transplant candidates, recipients, and donors. Headquartered in Richmond, Va., UNOS is also home to the National Donor Memorial, which honors the life-giving impact of organ and tissue donation.