On Feb. 14th, 2017, National Organ Donor Day, the Charlotte Banks Initiative at UNC Charlotte collaborated with LifeShare Of The Carolinas on a Symposium entitled “Conversations of the Heart”. The inaugural event brought together a diverse range of organ donation stakeholders to discuss strategies that could help eliminate the waitlist for those in need of organ transplants.

Local individuals who have been touched by donation shared their personal stories, while Sarah Seiler, LifeShare’s COO; Chad Hampton, Manager of LifeShare’s Organ Recovery Division and Dr. Michael Haley, LifeShare’s Medical Director, provided background on the challenges OPOs face as they work to maximize donation rates. Organ suitability and opportunities for innovation were shared by Dr. Lon Eskind, a Transplant Surgeon and Director of the Liver Program at Carolinas Medical Center.

Researchers from UNC Charlotte rounded out the day by presenting their latest research innovations and strategies to overcome some of the hurdles discussed by the earlier presenters. The lively discussion led to many new ideas for future consideration and even a feature-length news coverage on WFAE, the local NPR affiliate.

The Charlotte Banks initiative is a relatively new program at UNC Charlotte that is aimed at increasing the number of organs that can be transplanted. Dr. Gloria Elliott, Associate Chair of Research of Mechanical Engineering and Engineering Science and Director of the Charlotte Banks Initiative is leading the effort. She believes that quite a few of the engineering technologies that support organ preservation are rapidly advancing and that by bringing nanotechnology, materials science, and imaging together, the goal of providing “organs on demand” is ultimately attainable.

UNC Charlotte is helping to co-organize the “Organ Banking Through Converging Technologies Summit” (obs2017.org) to be held in Boston, Massachusetts on Aug. 3-6, 2017 with speakers including Elling Eidbo, Chief Executive Officer of AOPO and David Klassen, Chief Medical Officer of UNOS.