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Board addresses living donor safety, transplant program inactivity

Published on: Tuesday, November 18, 2008

St. Louis -- The OPTN/UNOS Board of Directors, at its meeting today, adopted a policy to improve the safety of living organ donation by specifying that living donor organ recovery and transplantation must take place in OPTN member transplant centers.

"As OPTN members, hospitals demonstrate that they have onsite personnel with key transplant training and experience," said Robert S.D. Higgins, M.D., president of the OPTN and UNOS and Chair of the OPTN/UNOS Board of Directors. "OPTN member centers also abide by policies that allow living donor outcomes to be tracked, and they can be reviewed for issues of patient safety." Currently only one non-member hospital would be affected by this policy change; it is possible that the policy may be revisited if additional centers would seek to perform only living donor recovery.

In other action, the Board adopted revisions to OPTN bylaws to clarify conditions when a transplant program becomes functionally inactive (a "functionally inactive" program is temporarily unable to perform transplants or does not perform any transplants over a long-term period). The revisions also detail procedures an inactive program must take to notify transplant candidates and arrange for their ongoing care.

The Organ Procurement and Transplantation Network (OPTN) is operated under contract with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Health Resources and Services Administration, Division of Transplantation by the United Network for Organ Sharing (UNOS). The OPTN brings together medical professionals, transplant recipients and donor families to develop organ transplantation policy.