Mary Jane Rodes (KTC) Chuck Heald (HonorBridge)
Washington, DC (November 1, 2022) Efforts to expand the kidney donor pool are progressing, thanks to the Kidney Transplant Collaborative’s (KTC) grant program, which launched earlier this year. HonorBridge, the largest organ procurement organization in North Carolina, is using funds from KTC to develop a system for rapid organ recovery following uncontrolled circulatory deaths. This would fill a major gap in the United States transplant system and significantly expand the kidney donor pool. Currently, more than 90,000 Americans are in need of lifesaving kidney transplants.
It is common practice in the U.S. to transplant organs via controlled donation following a circulatory death. In these situations, the family of the donor has decided to withdraw care, and there is time to make a plan to successfully complete transplant operations.
While the U.S. has a great system in place for these controlled donations, there is still work to be done to improve the uncontrolled donation process that typically arises in the case of unexpected deaths. HonorBridge has looked to systems that have been implemented in other countries, including some in Europe, and is working to replicate those successes here in the U.S.
Now, KTC’s grant is helping to drive much of the work that needs to be done to make this type of organ transplant a reality. This includes cooling the organ, or organs, getting the deceased donor to the operating room as quickly as possible and having a medical team ready and prepped to ensure a successful transplant.
“By putting a system in place to utilize organs donated following uncontrolled circulatory deaths, we can make a significant impact in the number of kidney donations across the United States,” noted Kimberly Koontz, Chief Operating Officer for HonorBridge. “This is a great example of process improvements that will open many doors for the transplant community and save more lives. We are grateful for KTC’s support and the opportunity to take the lead on this important initiative.”
HonorBridge, which partners with over 100 hospitals and five transplant centers in North Carolina, is working with Atrium Health Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center in Winston-Salem for an initial trial transplant operation using kidneys from uncontrolled circulatory deaths.
“It is a privilege to work with HonorBridge on something that will make a huge impact to the transplant community,” said Dr. Guiseppe Orlando, MD, PhD, one of the transplant surgeons involved. “We are lining up everything necessary to successfully transplant a kidney from an uncontrolled circulatory death, and I look forward to be part of this life-changing experience.”
The next phase of the project—actually testing the process with a kidney from an uncontrolled donation—is expected to take place in January.
“The Kidney Transplant Collaborative is very pleased by the amazing progress HonorBridge and its partners have made to help expand the kidney donor pool,” shared Lou Diamond, President and CEO of the KTC. “We are glad the grant from KTC has allowed them to work on this potentially life-changing program.”
You can find more information about KTC’s grant program and its 2022 recipients here.
About Kidney Transplant Collaborative:
The Kidney Transplant Collaborative (KTC) is a 501(c)(4) nonprofit organization dedicated to increasing kidney transplants and decreasing financial obstacles and other problems kidney patients, donors, and their families experience with the kidney transplant process.
HonorBridge, is the federally designated, not-for-profit organ procurement organization serving 7.5 million people in 77 counties in North Carolina, along with Pittsylvania County in Virginia. With offices in Durham, Greenville, and Winston-Salem, HonorBridge is devoted to building connections that save and heal lives through organ and tissue donation. In North Carolina, almost 3,000 people are currently waiting for organ transplants and nationally, over 105,000 people are on the organ waiting list. For more information, visit HonorBridge.org or call 1-800-200-2672.