LOS ANGELES--(BUSINESS WIRE)--The leaders of the four federally designated organ procurement organizations in California, dedicated to saving lives through organ, eye and tissue donation, will gather next week to discuss the state of donation during the current COVID-19 pandemic at a virtual town hall meeting taking place on Sept. 22. The webinar is the latest episode in the ongoing “Connecting the Dots” virtual series, produced and sponsored by the OneLegacy Foundation.
Comprising the faculty for the Sept. 22 event will be Tom Mone, chief executive officer of OneLegacy, which serves seven Southern California counties; Lisa Stocks, executive director of Lifesharing in San Diego; Sean Van Slyck, executive director of Sierra Donor Services in Sacramento; and Janice Whaley, chief executive officer of Donor Network West, serving Northern California and Northern Nevada. Moderating the session will be Denise Pines, president of the Medical Board of California.
Topics to be discussed at the town hall include a comprehensive description of what Organ Procurement Organizations (OPOs) are and how they work, why a shortage of organ donation persists (understanding the donation potential), the role of transplant centers, an update on legislative activities related to donation and transplantation, and how people go about signing up to be a donor. The faculty will also discuss who donates and how organs are allocated and transported to those on waiting lists, including the fact that organs know no sexual orientation and no national, ethnic or religious boundaries and simply go to those in greatest need or who have waited the longest, in the case of kidneys.
In the wake of COVID-19, in March the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services issued guidelines that identified transplantation as a “Tier 3, High Acuity Surgery, Do Not Postpone” procedure. That allowed OPOs, including the four represented at the town hall, to continue their lifesaving work while instituting practice modifications designed to prevent contagion and to ensure the health and safety of recipients, family members and health care staff. Since that time, OPOs have been working with partner hospitals and transplant centers to assure the safety of donors and the many recipients waiting to receive their gift of life.
Currently, the number of people on a waitlist to receive a lifesaving heart, liver, lung, kidney and/or pancreas is approximately 109,000 nationwide, 21,500 in California. These numbers remain this high despite the fact that national waitlists have actually been declining for the past couple of years, not growing. Attendees at the town hall will learn why this dichotomy exists and what OPOs are doing to raise public awareness on the power of donation in an effort to bring the waitlist numbers down even further.
The Sept. 22 town hall will take place LIVE at 1 p.m. PDT/4 p.m. EDT. The event is open to the public, and those interested in attending can register here.
OneLegacy is a nonprofit organization dedicated to saving lives through organ, eye and tissue donation in seven counties in Southern California: Los Angeles, Orange, Riverside, San Bernardino, Ventura, Santa Barbara and Kern. It serves more than 200 hospitals, 11 transplant centers, a diverse population of nearly 20 million, donors and families across the region, and waiting recipients across the country. For more information, visit onelegacy.org.