According to officials for the four OPOs now operating separate recovery centers, the 54 other organ procurement organizations around the country still do it the old way for the nearly 23,000 organs from deceased donors transplanted each year in the U.S.
That is, after an organ donor is declared brain dead and the United Network for Organ Sharing determines which patient should receive his or her organs, the surgeons fly in from their respective transplant hospitals and wait, often for hours.
"There can be huge delays in getting the donor workup," for various organ suitability, says Maria Majella Doyle, MD, a liver transplant surgeon at Barnes Jewish Hospital/Washington University in St. Louis, which is a participant in the Mid-America Transplant Services procurement center program. Tests on the donor include, cardiac catheterization, echocardiograms, bronchoscopies, and CT scans.
Safer for Transplant Teams
"You have to slip the donor recovery operation into some available time in the evening or night, which is convenient for all the recipient teams waiting for their respective organs," says Doyle.
"And then when the organs are all placed and the donor [OR] time is set, and all recipient teams are ready, some trauma comes in and takes precedence, and they can't do the recovery."
She places a high value on freeing up OR time. Once, after flying four hours to a small community hospital in rural Missouri to retrieve organs, Doyle had to spend nine hours in the doctor's lounge after the hospital received a trauma case that monopolized the facility's one operating room.