All abstracts are organized by track and listed in alphabetical order by title.

Creating Specialist Roles in Donor Services to Optimize Performance



William Muren, Director, Donor Services, Mid-America Transplant


Sarah Berger Manager, Donor Services, Mid-America Transplant

Purpose: Creating specialists’ roles within the DS department was implemented to improve employee retention, satisfaction and improve operational results.

Methods: Specialist roles were determined by the skillset and functions required to perform in that role. A total of 3 models were tested over a period of 2 months. Staff were given the opportunity to provide input and propose changes to the specific functions performed within each role to optimize efficiency and satisfaction.

Results:Departmental performance is defined as authorization rate. Satisfaction and engagement will be measured via an employee engagement survey. Results pending filling open positions and completion of staff training – results will be tracked beginning 1/1/20. Initial results show an increase in overall authorization rate from 57% for the first two quarters of 2019 to 60% in the 4th quarter of 2019.

Conclusion: Having a model in which specialists who are highly trained and demonstrate proficiency in a role with specific functions will optimize departmental performance, will lead to a decrease in staff turnover and increase staff satisfaction and engagement.

Rapid Support of In-The-Moment Medical Examiner Requests Allowing for Pediatric Heart Valve Recovery

Donor Network West Featured Image


Heather Bradley, Donor Program Liaison, Donor Network West


Washoe County Regional Medical Examiner and Mary Ashmore, Clinical Lab Supervisor at Renown Health

Purpose: In the United States, the need for pediatric heart valves is great; processors report having a “waiting list” for recipients. Pediatric heart valve transplants help children with congenital anomalies lead a normal life and decrease the number of cardiac surgeries that would be required with a mechanical valve. One major obstacle for graft availability are routine restrictions on potential donors from Medical Examiners and Coroners. This Organ Procurement Organization (OPO) was able to collaborate with a local Medical Examiner (ME) and donor hospital to create a sterile blood culture collection process that successfully facilitated a families wish to donate their daughter’s valves, while ensuring no clinical or investigative information was lost for the ME.

Methods: The ME and OPO recognized a need for obtaining a sterile blood culture sample during evaluation of a pediatric tissue donor candidate suspected of dying from an infectious disease. The sample was critical to the ME’s investigation and release for donation was not possible without it. The OPO did not have a process or the supplies to collect a sterile blood culture from the great vessels during recovery. A sterile culture could not be obtained post recovery due to contamination. Logistics and timing prevented the ME from attending the recovery or drawing their own sample. With guidance from the Chief Medical Examiner and support from the donor hospital, a process to complete the culture collection was created in the moment using supplies and direction from the donor hospital laboratory.

Results:The family’s wish for their child to be a tissue donor was honored. The ME permitted the release of heart valves for transplant without compromising their investigation—in fact, the cultures ultimately helped to inform the cause of death for this child. A processor successfully generated two grafts from the OPO’s error-free recovery: one aortic valve and conduit, and one pulmonary valve and conduit. The collaboration of the OPO, hospital and ME’s office, acting quickly to meet the needs of this donor case, further fortified a relationship between the three key stakeholders in donor processes.

Conclusion: The OPO will be adding blood culture collection to their tissue blood draw policy. By providing Coroners and Medical Examiners the options of additional cultures, the OPO expects to see a rise in heart valve release rates on donors with suspected infectious disease.