OHSU researchers launch initiative to reduce transplant wait times

As many as 22 patients die each day while waiting for a needed organ. Beyond the human cost, the U.S. health care system spends billions of dollars on life-sustaining treatments for those on the organ transplant waiting list. On June 13, the White House unveiled a new initiative to address challenges associated with organ donation and transplantation in the U.S. Included in the key actions is a three-year, $4.2 million grant to researchers at OHSU, as well as other partners, from the Laura and John Arnold Foundation. This grant launches the Donor Management Research Initiative, a collaboration among researchers at OHSU, the University of California San Francisco,  and the United Network for Organ Sharing. The Donor Management Research Initiative aims to save lives by providing robust evidence to maximize the number of organs per donor as well as ensure excellent quality.

The Obama Administration will be working with dozens of companies, foundations, universities, hospitals, and patient advocacy groups to improve outcomes for patients waiting for organ transplants and support for living donors. Key focus areas include developing techniques to bio-fabricate tissues that may one day lead to organ replacement, improving registration systems, using alternative media outreach to increase the number of donors, and creating paired donation, which pools living donors and recipients to increase the likelihood of matches.

The Donor Management Research Initiative, led by Darren Malinoski, M.D., F.A.C.S., associate professor of surgery, OHSU School of Medicine, and assistant chief of surgery – research and education, section chief, surgical critical care, VA Portland Health Care System, will build on groundwork laid by the research community over the past eight years. A major focus of their work will include producing new evidence-based standards of care by expanding a national, web-based donor management data registry and conducting rigorous randomized controlled trials.

The White House announcement has garnered media interest; more information and commentary can be found in The Washington Post, Nephrology News, The Portland Business Journal, and the Morning Consult.

The Obama Administration has committed to providing an update in the next 180 days, which will report on the continued progress of actions announced this week. You can also watch the video of the White House Organ Summit.