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New technology allows electronic sharing of donor information

Published on: Wednesday, August 27, 2003

Richmond, VA --- During its first full month of operation, a web-based application designed to improve patient safety and increase the efficiency and accuracy of the organ placement process has enabled transplant professionals to electronically access more than 500 medical files about organ donors.

Launched June 16 by the United Network for Organ Sharing (UNOS), DonorNetSM facilitates organ placement and acceptance by providing secure, convenient and flexible donor information to transplant center personnel. It is a new and fully integrated part of the UNetSM system, UNOS' computer program that houses the nation's waiting list for organ transplants and matches organ donors with potential recipients.

"This technology represents the spirit of innovation that U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Tommy Thompson has been championing with his donation initiatives," said UNOS President Russell Wiesner, M.D. "We're fortunate that the Secretary is so highly committed to quality patient care and the effective use of technology that he has brought these issues into the forefront of public awareness."

DonorNetSM allows organ procurement organizations to post donor information forms, blood-type confirmation documents and serology results, digital images of X-Rays and donor organs as well as short video images of echocardiograms, angiograms or bronchoscopies, if they are available. The files become part of a donor's case file and are viewable from the UNetSM donor record. This new electronic feature should help transplant professionals make more informed decisions regarding the acceptance of donated organs and increase the efficiency of organ placement.

Between July 16 and August 13, DonorNetSM attachments were viewed 1,370 times by personnel from 77 organ transplant and procurement organizations. Transplant professionals used DonorNetSM to attach medical files to the records of nearly half of the 584 donors matched through UNetSM during that time period.

The system also includes fax and e-mail utilities for communicating donor information to transplant center personnel.

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. The OPTN brings together medical professionals, transplant recipients and donor families to develop organ transplantation policy.