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Hospital Organ Donor Programs Push the Envelope

Cheryl Clark, for HealthLeaders Media, March 27, 2014

But the positives outweighed the negatives by a long shot. Moving donors out of the hospital to their facility would mean doctors had shorter distances to drive. It was, she says, like a balloon appeared over Kappel's and her heads "with a big 'Duh.' "

In the years since, MTS has added a lot. It has a new building with a full cardiac cath lab, a CT scanner to see if the donors' lungs might have emphysema. There's a full serology lab, all kinds of backup services, and sterilization capabilities, "everything you need to run a small mini hospital," she says.

It's a fascinating concept, and one that hospitals transplant program officials tell me they support. Though there is a major glitch with finances affecting financial reimbursement at transplant centers, clearly there's a way for Medicare to fix that, so other OPO programs large enough to support such efforts can follow suit.

According to the United Network for Organ Sharing, there are 121,680 individuals on one or more waiting list for an organ transplant, nearly 100,000 of them waiting for a kidney, with the rest hoping for a liver, pancreas, heart, lung, or intestine. The faster the process can happen for them, the better.


Cheryl Clark is senior quality editor and California correspondent for HealthLeaders Media. She is a member of the Association of Health Care Journalists.
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