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Statement regarding Jesica Santillian's transplant

Published on: Thursday, February 20, 2003

Richmond, Va. -- The Organ and Procurement and Transplantation Network (OPTN) and the United Network for Organ Sharing (UNOS) share in the public concern for Jesica Santillan, who received a heart-lung transplant with an incompatible blood type as a result of an unfortunate error.

In its role as administrator of the national OPTN for the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), UNOS is conducting a review of all facts concerning this patient's listing and the donated organs offered to her. This review, to be conducted under established OPTN/UNOS procedures, will include gathering information from all organizations involved in the case and a medical peer review to decide any further actions.

Ms. Santillan was registered on the national waiting list as a candidate for a heart-lung transplant. However, she did not appear on the "match run" -- a computer-generated list of potential recipients who were medically compatible with the donor -- because her blood type did not match the donor's.   The OPTN/UNOS inquiry will address how the organ offer and acceptance occurred despite her absence on the specific list used for the match.

OPTN/UNOS policies address the matching sequence for donors and recipients and require that detailed medical information about each organ donor, including blood type, be recorded and provided to the transplant center.  If properly followed, these policies, in conjunction with the quality management procedures utilized by organ procurement organizations and transplant centers, should prevent erroneous blood type mismatches.

Ms. Santillan has undergone a repeat transplant.  The OPTN/UNOS organ matching system will continue to seek appropriate donor matches for the more than 80,000 men, women and children today awaiting a life-saving transplant in the United States.

UNOS manages the nation's organ transplant system under contract with the Health Resources and Services Administration of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.  UNOS is designated as the Organ Procurement and Transplantation Network (OPTN), and under that contract, UNOS brings together medical professionals, transplant recipients and donor families to develop organ transplantation policy. UNOS provides the OPTN with a functional, effective management system incorporating the UNOS Board of Directors, committees and regional membership structure to operate OPTN elements and activities.