Oct 6, 2021 - Health

Organ procurement organization data to be analyzed for first time

Illustration of coronavirus affecting a brain, lungs, and heart pattern
Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios

Several organ procurement organizations will open up at least a decade's worth of their data for analysis in the first such effort to improve the understanding of the American organ procurement system, the Federation of American Scientists announced late Tuesday.

Why it matters: The federal government knows very little about how those on the organ donation list are being helped in real-time. HHS data suggests improvements in organ recovery practices could lead to at least 7,000 additional lifesaving transplants every year.

This is especially timely as COVID-19 is expected to increase the demand for organs such as hearts and lungs, as well as exacerbate treatments for kidney damage, the analysis aims to point out solutions to the inefficiencies.

  • Donor waiting lists are also historically plagued by equity issues.

The big picture: Advocates and lawmakers have long been pushing for these organizations to release their data since many of them are failing or underperforming in their ability to get those on the waiting list an organ, according to 2019 data.

Details: The seven organ procurement organizations in June had agreed in Congressional testimonies to hand over their data, which represents about one-sixth of the organizations.

  • MIT and Wilson Lab will analyze it and FAS will make public regarding OPO performance, operations and finances.

What they're saying: "Working with this data is a first step towards making better decisions about how to save more lives through organ procurement and transplantation. We have an opportunity to use machine learning to understand potential issues and lead improvements in transparency and equity," Marzyeh Ghassemi, lead reviewer for MIT's Healthy ML Lab, said in a statement.

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