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No plans for Nebraska transplant-only facility –

By Rick Ruggles / World-Herald staff writer March 2, 2014

Nebraska’s organ-recovery agency has no plan to create a central facility where organs would be procured.

Kyle Herber, executive director of the Nebraska Organ Recovery System, said his agency doesn’t procure enough organs annually to make building and staffing a “mini-hospital” financially feasible.

The Nebraska system last year recovered organs from a record 75 “cadaveric donors” — generally, donors who are brain dead — up from its previous record of 53 in 2006.

St. Louis-based Mid-America Transplant Services, which recovered organs from 161 donors last year, has had good results with taking donors to a central facility near St. Louis’ four transplant hospitals and removing the organs at that facility.

But experts in Nebraska said such a system isn’t needed here and isn’t being considered. Further, they expressed concern about how the donor’s family might respond to moving the donor’s body to a different location to procure the organs.

Moving the body to a central site “would be an awful lot to ask of a family,” Herber said.

The only hospitals in Nebraska that perform transplants are the Nebraska Medical Center and Children’s Hospital & Medical Center, both in Omaha. The Nebraska Medical Center performs heart, liver, kidney, intestine and pancreas transplants. Children’s performs pediatric heart transplants.

Herber said his agency hasn’t considered using either the Nebraska Med Center or Children’s as a central facility. Transplant specialists procure the organs in whatever hospital the donor is at, whether it be in Omaha, Lincoln or some other Nebraska community. Herber said about 90 percent of donors in Nebraska are in Omaha or Lincoln.

Organs procured in Nebraska aren’t necessarily destined for an Omaha hospital, though. The recipient is determined largely through a national computer system that matches blood type and size and factors in the severity of illness of potential recipients.

About 54 percent of Nebraskans are on the donor registry, which means that they have authorized through drivers licenses or some other way the procurement of their organs. In other cases, Nebraska Organ Recovery System seeks consent from family members. This can be a delicate conversation, given that the potential donor has just suffered brain death from auto accident, shooting, stroke or some other tragedy.

Doug Bremers, manager of Donate Life Services at the Nebraska Med Center, said transplants aren’t possible without the generosity of donors and their families. “I think the most important thing is how would this affect the donor family,” he said of creating a central organ-retrieval site. “Certainly, you don’t want to make it more stressful or worse for them.”

via No plans for Nebraska transplant-only facility –

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