New York Tries 2-Team Approach to Organ Donation

“About 8,000 people in New York – 109,000 nationally – are waiting for life-saving organ transplants, according to the US Department of Health and Human Services.”

CNN recently reported on the new pilot program to “test the feasibility of recovering organs from the more than 400 eligible donors who die of cardiac arrest outside of New York hospitals.”

Basically, the program listens in on 911 calls, and when the incident involves cardiac arrest or stroke, a second organ preservation unit is sent along with the ambulance crew.

If the victim is a registered donor (recognized by a donor card, driver’s license, or donor registry) and the team can get family approval, the kidneys (because those are the only organ that can be salvaged after cardiac arrest) can be preserved right away.

The donation process involves cardiopulmonary resuscitation to keep the blood flowing through the organs after the heart stops. Later, extracorporeal membrane oxygenation performs both cardiac and respiratory processes to the body.

Organs can only survive without appropriate blood flow for 40 minutes, so this new program will help match that timetable more often, saving more lives.

The program is currently only in effect in parts of Manhattan as a test, and all transplants take place at Bellevue Hospital Medical Center, who has partnered with the city police and fire departments.

However, there are concerns about the program. Many people fear becoming an organ donor for fear of not receiving adequate care when they need it. This program just brings those concerns to the forefront, as there is a second team there whose sole purpose is to take your organs.

If this is your fear, it’s important to know that the second team is only called if the first-response team has failed to save the victim’s life. “There is a real firewall between the attempt to save life and this effort to recover organs,” said Elaine Berg, president and CEO of the New York Organ Donor Network.”

Become an organ donor in New York today.

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