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Organ Transplantation and the Link to Life

While the healthcare group purchasing industry has evolved over the years to include sophisticated product selection based on patient outcomes and reimbursement data, one thing has stayed the same: achieving our goal requires a delicate balance of supply, demand, and timing. Falling short in any one of those areas can put lives at risk.

My interest in getting the right products to the right patients at the right time is what drew me to devote my own time and resources to LiveOnNY. As a past board member, I’ve seen firsthand the enormous amount of coordination required to successfully operate LiveOnNY, the nation’s second-largest organ procurement organization (OPO), dedicated to providing organ and tissue recovery services for the New York metropolitan area. It is one of just 58 OPOs in the United States. Under federal law, these are the only organizations that can perform organ recovery services.

Like purchasing groups, OPOs are neither healthcare providers nor suppliers. These transplant networks sit in-between, connecting critical organs with the patients who literally cannot live without them. So during April, which is National Donate Life Month, I want to add my voice to the call for organ donors in the Greater New York area and across the United States.

The need for organ donors has reached an all-time high. Right here in my own community, more than 10,000 New Yorkers are awaiting organ transplants. Nationally, that number rises to more than 120,000. In this country, an average 22 people die every day waiting for organ transplants. A new name is added to the waiting list every 10 minutes.

While the need to save lives is by far the most important driver for organ donation, organ transplantation is also a prime example of a healthcare treatment where the long-term outcome far outweighs the near-term costs. For example, the cumulative cost of dialysis for a patient waiting to receive a kidney transplant will surpass the cost of transplantation after only two years. And after five years on dialysis, the cumulative cost is nearly double that associated with transplantation. So, in addition to saving lives, organ donation helps contain healthcare costs.

The need for organ donors is significant and undeniable. But what can one person do to solve such a huge problem? It’s as simple as going to http://www.organdonor.gov and completing an organ donor registration form. A single organ donor can save up to eight lives.

Anyone can make this gift, which will keep on giving. I can’t think of a more powerful legacy.

Lee H. Perlman

Already registered as an organ donor and want to help spread the word during National Donate Life Month? Here are some simple ways you can use social media to share the importance of organ donation:

  • Create an ad with your personal story as part of the Long Live NY campaign: longliveny.org
  • Add badges to your profile and get sample wording for posts from the United Network for Organ Sharing: unos.org
  • Customize your Facebook or Twitter profile picture to show your support: twibbon.com
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