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UNOS wins contract to continue as national transplant network

Richmond, VA – United Network for Organ Sharing (UNOS) has again won a competitive federal contract to serve as the nation’s Organ Procurement and Transplantation Network (OPTN). UNOS has fulfilled this role since the OPTN began in 1986, under contract with the Health Resources and Services Administration of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS).

“UNOS is committed to continually improving the nation’s transplant system,” said UNOS Chief Executive Officer Brian Shepard. “Donors, their families, and waiting transplant candidates depend on us.”

Last year, the number of organ transplants in the United States reached a new high for the fifth consecutive year, and the number of transplants is expected to exceed 36,000 in 2018.

All transplant hospitals and organ procurement organizations nationwide are members of the OPTN. The OPTN contract requires a number of critical functions, including:

  • developing and implementing equitable organ distribution policies
  • collecting detailed data on all transplant candidates and recipients, as well as living and deceased organ donors
  • conducting research to improve performance of the national transplant system
  • assisting in organ placement for transplantation
  • monitoring members for patient safety and quality
  • reviewing issues involving potential risks to the health and safety of transplant candidates, recipients and/or living donors

Including option years, the new contract will run through September 2023. Total funding over the length of the contract is estimated to be nearly $250 million. The federal government will fund approximately 10 percent of that amount. The remainder of contract funding comes from fees assessed to individual member institutions.

Areas of additional emphasis under the new contract include:

  • enhancing professional and public involvement in OPTN policy development, such as developing and hosting professional symposia on key policy-related issues
  • continuing to foster innovation in providing projects and services to increase organ utilization and improve the organ matching process
  • furthering the development and use of metrics in assessing the effectiveness of OPTN policy implementation and of monitoring members for patient safety and quality

Separate from its OPTN responsibilities and with private funding, UNOS, a non-profit, 501(c)3 charitable membership organization, leads other efforts to support organ donation and transplantation. These activities include:

  •  collaborating with members on continuous improvement initiatives to strengthen and enhance their work
  • conducting innovative research to increase the number of transplants and enhance transplant outcomes
  • offering information to guide potential living donors, transplant candidates and their caregivers in their decision-making

UNOS is based in downtown Richmond, Va. UNOS is also the home of the National Donor Memorial to honor the spirit and the legacy of organ and tissue donors.

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