There have been more than 25,000 organ transplants per year in the United States since the mid-2000s. On average, around 95 organ transplants are carried out in the country per day, with someone being added to the national organ transplant waiting list every nine minutes. Kidney transplants tend to have the highest post-transplant survival rate followed by liver, heart and lung transplants.
A recent report from the Senate Finance Committee has revealed a disturbing fact: a lack of oversight in the organization charged with supervising organ testing and transplants in the country has led to dozens of cases of illness and death. According to the congressional committee, oversight errors by the Organ Procurement and Transplantation Network (OPTN) are linked to 70 deaths due to donor-derived disease. OPTN is charged with overseeing organ testing and transplants in the U.S. It is under the purview of a nonprofit organization called the United Network for Organ Sharing (UNOS).
The Senate committee’s report revealed that OPTN did not provide sufficient oversight on multiple occasions, resulting in “avoidable failures” that caused viable organs to either be destroyed or lost. Due to these oversight failures, there were fewer viable organs available for transplant.
Data collected from January 2008 to September 2015 shows that there were 211 cases of donors transmitting diseases through their organs. Furthermore, 249 organ recipients contracted donor-derived diseases, and 70 of them lost their lives, underlying just how dangerous poor oversight in organ donation can be.
Although the 70 deaths make up a small percentage of the multitude of transplants that occur each year, the committee stated that the data was indicative of the danger of illnesses contracted after organ transplants. The senate committee also noted that there were several occasions where recipients received organs with the wrong blood type while other recipients suffered poor health outcomes and nearly died due to oversight errors. Several organs were also damaged during transportation and were not transplanted into the recipients.
There have been concerns that the 57 organ procurement organizations under the oversight of the OPTN were not procuring thousands of viable organs. As a result, the committee launched an investigation into the OPTN and found that 22 of the organ procurement organizations under its oversight were not meeting the expected outcomes laid out by a recent rule change from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.
The report concluded that there have been repeated and systemic patient safety concerns in the organ procurement space, including transportation failures, packaging and labeling errors, fraud allegations, and failure to identify transmissible diseases in donor organs.
The conclusions of the senate committee show that urgent reforms are needed to make organ transplantation a more streamlined an effective process. To this end, companies such as Aditxt Inc. (NASDAQ: ADTX) are playing their part in this fight by devoting lots of resources in studying how the immune system can be retrained so that cases of transplanted organs being rejected by the bodies of their recipients are reduced or even eliminated.
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