GPS Tracking for Live Transplant Organs

17 Mar 2020

According to the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA), four of every 10, tissue and donor organ transplants that occur each year involve living organs and tissues. While most organ or tissue donations of this type are from close friends and family, there are some people who gladly donate to help improve the lives of others. Did you know that there is a nationwide issue related to donated tissue and organs? One that renders many donated organs unusable for transplant. GPS tracking for live transplant organs and other organ donations could help prevent many of the lost organs and near misses that currently occur.

Lost Organs and the Effort to Prevent Them

What’s alarming, though, is the number of organs intended for transplant that are lost while en route to their intended destinations. The unfortunate truth is that many of these organs have limited viability once removed from the donor. If they do not reach their intended destinations in time, the organ is lost. These lost organs are rarely misplaced or misdirected in transit. They are lost to time.

From July 2014 through June 2015, 30 organs had to be discarded and there were an additional 109 near misses. With such a critical shortage, nationwide, of donor organs, it is essential to treat these organs and tissues with the care they require and to make every effort to ensure they reach their intended destinations on time.

While there is not yet a streamlined method for transporting these organs nationwide, there are things that can help to improve the viability of donated organs, largely with the help of GPS tracking. Here’s how it works.

GPS tracking is attached to the container holding the organ so that a transplant coordinator is able to do the following:

  • Closely monitor organ location.
  • Manage logistics of getting organ where it needs to be and on time.
  • Assemble medical team so that the patient is prepared for the transplant once the organ arrives.

The transplant coordinator does all these things knowing that time is of the essence. While there is a hard deadline for viability with live organ transplants, the reality is that the earlier the organ arrives the better. It allows room for transplant teams to manage issues that arise during the surgery.

GPS tracking is instrumental in avoiding terrible mistakes that could render donated organs inviable for patients. The hope is that this will be implemented nationwide for all donor and live donor networks to avoid potentially devastating mistakes for the 123,000 people hoping for an organ on any given day.

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