Of all the procedures in hospital medicine that actually keep sick people alive, perhaps the most audacious is the organ transplant.
Organ procurement and transplantation have always pushed the envelope. Those who work in this field seem to be constantly finding more creative ways to utilize organs and maximize their potential through science and strategy, and downright chutzpah. Where 10,794 patients received an organ from a deceased donor in 1988, nearly 23,000 got one or more in 2013, according to United Network for Organ Sharing data.
So it isn't surprising that the people who organize and perform transplants, those working in this country's 58 regional organ procurement organizations (OPOs) and the hospitals they supply, would always be thinking of safer, cheaper, more efficient ways to retrieve scarce donated organs. They've organized ways to get organs into patients faster, minimizing stress on the family. And in ways that improve organ viability in the recipient.
After all, they deal with life and death every day. What's to lose?
That was the approach taken 13 years ago by Mid-America Transplant Services in St. Louis, a solution borne out of frustration that the system was slow, annoying, and cumbersome for everyone. MTS figured out a way to streamline the organ donation process so that brain-dead donors didn't clog up precious hospital critical care units and surgical suites during organ recovery, freeing those resources for living patients.