United Network for Organ Sharing (UNOS) is the country’s Organ Procurement and Transplantation Network -- under contract with the Health Resources and Services Administration of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (its contract is renewed every few years after a competitive bidding process). This means UNOS matches kidneys and other organs with people awaiting transplants nationwide. While there have been over 666,661 transplants performed since 1988, and a record of 30,969 took place just last year; it is still not enough. More than 55,000 patients are added to the waiting list yearly (every 14 minutes someone is added to the Kidney Transplant List), and approximately 13 people die each day while waiting for a life-saving Kidney Transplant (4,761 patients died while waiting for kidneys in a recent year), according to the National Kidney Foundation. Clearly, something needs to be done -- and fast! That is why UNOS is stepping forward to take actions that will help improve the donation system and even possibly help patients get transplants sooner.
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The Richmond-based nonprofit organization, UNOS, recently announced multimillion-dollar plans to advance the technology in its system to help achieve the following:
1. Eliminate avoidable human errors.
2. Streamline the entire Kidney (Organ) Transplant process to make sure people who need kidneys get them as quickly as possible.
3. Increase data collection.
Many Chronic Kidney Disease patients will be surprised to learn that handwritten information is still used by UNOS which has resulted in typos and difficult to read handwriting. In fact, Richmond Times-Dispatch reported, "Over the past decade, there have been some instances of errors, sometimes resulting in a patient getting the wrong organ." By putting barcodes in place, as well as other computer system logging, UNOS hopes to eliminate avoidable mistakes of this kind.
Also, streamlining the connection between organ procurement organizations, transplant centers, kidney evaluation labs (institutions that test the compatibility of tissue), and UNOS can further reduce errors and even expedite delivery so that a kidney is in better condition when transplanted. This will likely be accomplished by electronic data exchanges which are expected to be promptly implemented across all transplant channels.
The benefit of collecting data may appear pretty straightforward: Identify and correct additional issues or complications in the transplant system. However, UNOS plans to use better data collection to possibly allow for future research and future innovation to help further reduce wait times. “At the end of the day, it’s all about increasing the number of transplants. That’s the number one goal for us,” said Alex Tulchinsky (UNOS Chief Technology Officer).
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Due to the fact that the waiting list is so much longer than the availability of Kidney Transplants, it should be reassuring for Chronic Kidney Disease and Dialysis patients to know that UNOS is doing everything in their power to try to find organs for more and more individuals who are waiting. Still, do not just wait on the list. The number of people in need of a kidney transplant is staggering and growing. Share your story far and wide. Tell family and friends about your need for a living kidney donor. Also, be sure to begin your social media effort. The number of altruistic (generous) living kidney donors are increasing. However, these generous potential donors will not know that you are in need of a kind-hearted donor unless they are told. Feel free to connect with KidneyBuzz.com for help with your social media effort (click here).
How long have you been waiting for a Kidney Transplant? Do you believe that the list could use improvements? Weigh-in with your own pros and cons at the KidneyBuzz.com Facebook Fan Page which has over 42,000 friends (click here). While you are there, like the KidneyBuzz.com Facebook Fan Page and visit KidneyBuzz.com regularly (115,000+ monthly viewers) for the latest tailored breaking news and information which teaches those with Chronic Kidney Disease, Dialysis, Kidney Transplant, Diabetes, and High Blood Pressure how to better manage and improve their lives. You may become a regular visitor like, Charles Griffin who said, "Praise God for KidneyBuzz."