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Hospital Organ Donor Programs Push the Envelope

Cheryl Clark, for HealthLeaders Media, March 27, 2014

Brockmeier was not unfamiliar with that impatience. She started investigating solutions. "Could I find a lab that could turn around the serology testing faster? Could we minimize some of the treatment modalities (that keep the donor breathing)? Was there a way to leverage technology?" she recalls.

Over the OPO's history, it had gone from mainly procuring kidneys to livers, hearts and lungs, and the process required more testing, which meant it took even longer.

It occurred to her that the OPO was moving bone and tissue donors out of the hospital with no problem. Their hearts were no longer beating, and their lungs didn't require ventilation. They could do the same thing with brain-dead donors by replicating the life-support the donors were getting in the hospital.  And she had support from MTS's chief executive officer, Dean Kappel.

People in transplant, she says, "have a reputation for having kind of an innovative culture. We take some intelligent risks in the way we look at things." To be sure, she adds, "Some of our colleagues were skeptical of what we were doing." Would family members agree to let their loved ones leave the hospital to have organs recovered somewhere else rather than in the familiar surroundings of their hospital?

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