Broader distribution of organs nationwide has highlighted the need to ensure organ recovery team safety is a priority for the transplant community. Transplant and organ procurement organization team members are sometimes injured in ground transportation accidents, resulting in the loss of productive clinical years. In a recently published American Journal of Transplantation article, transplant community and United Network for Organ Sharing leaders assert that new methods of organ transport are needed.
“More than a decade has passed since the tragic loss of an organ recovery team from the University of Michigan, yet, no national standards have been adopted to ensure that the risk of a similar accident is minimized,” said University of Iowa kidney surgeon David Axelrod, M.D., who collaborated on the article with UNOS CEO Brian Shepard and other members of the organ donation and transplant community.
To address this need, a national summit was held in 2019 to develop and circulate national guidelines for aircraft vendors, ground transportation, and insurance coverage. Working collaboratively, representatives from the American Society of Transplant Surgeons, the American Society of Transplantation, the Association of Organ Procurement Organizations, and UNOS have put forth a series of data-driven recommendations to reduce the risk of injury.
“Even after implementation, further work is needed to identify and report all incidences of injury and near misses,” Axelrod said. “Like the National Transportation Safety Board, we need to collect and review these events to further improve safety.”