Piedmont Atlanta Hospital Partners with LifeLink® of Georgia to Create Dedicated Organ Recovery Center
Center will be first of its kind in Georgia and fifth in the United States
Atlanta, Ga. (July 7, 2020) – Piedmont Atlanta Hospital is partnering with LifeLink of Georgia to create a dedicated Organ Recovery Center (ORC). The ORC, which will be the first of its kind in the state and the fifth in the nation, is expected to create an innovative organ recovery process that leads to improved donation and transplantation outcomes, increased efficiency and reduced costs.
“The ORC at Piedmont Atlanta is an important next step in continuing to facilitate the decisions of Georgians who give the gift of life through donation and serve organ and tissue donor families, transplant recipients, and hospital and transplant center partners,” said Dustin T. Diggs, FACHE, Executive Director, LifeLink of Georgia. “Space and staff dedicated to this life-saving mission will increase expertise and efficiency to better serve our community while saving lives.”
According to LifeLink, more than 5,000 Georgians are waiting for a transplant. Each year, almost 1,000 Georgians who were listed for transplant at some time die without getting one, often because they have waited so long that they are too sick to survive the surgery.
“One of the struggles in transplantation is that there just aren’t enough organs for everyone who needs them,” said Jonathan Hundley, M.D., Surgical Director of Kidney and Pancreas Transplantation at Piedmont Transplant Institute. “There are three ways to increase the number of organs available: Convince people to become living donors, increase consent rates for deceased donors and increase the number of organs transplanted from each authorized deceased donor.”
The ORC will focus on increasing the number of organs that can be recovered and transplanted from authorized deceased donors. “By implementing more uniform management of the donor, we can improve the number of transplantable organs per donor,” Dr. Hundley said. “We know we can save many lives every year by increasing organs transplanted per donor.”
Increasing the number of organs that can be transplanted from donors is a way to fully honor each donor’s gift. “Many families find a degree of comfort in knowing that their loved one is able to become a donor and help others. To later find out we were not able to transplant their loved one’s organs is heartbreaking,” said Dr. Hundley. “By managing donors in a way that leads to increased organs transplanted, we will be able to most fully honor their gift.”
In addition to saving more lives, having an ORC can also help improve the quality of life for transplant recipients by making the process from organ recovery to transplantation quicker, reducing the amount of time between recovery of an organ and transplantation. In many cases, organs perform better, and patients have better outcomes, if that timeframe is shorter.
“When we talk about better outcomes for patients, it’s important to understand what that means,” said Dr. Hundley. “With a kidney transplant, if we can do the transplant within five hours instead of 20, we potentially add several years of life for the recipient. Better outcomes equal more lives saved, and more people living longer.”
During calendar year 2019, Piedmont surgeons transplanted 274 kidneys (164 from deceased donors and 110 from living donors), 129 livers (122 from deceased donors and seven from living donors) and 12 pancreata.
Thanks to the generosity of 344 organ donors and their families, LifeLink of Georgia provided a record number of organs for transplant during a calendar year, with 1,039 organs transplanted during 2019. This marks the most organ donors facilitated by LifeLink of Georgia, with a nearly 16% increase over last calendar year.
“Piedmont’s promise is to make a positive difference in every life we touch,” said Piedmont Atlanta CEO Patrick Battey, M.D. “Being selected to be the Organ Recovery Center in the state of Georgia will allow us to share that promise with patients needing transplants, the family members and friends who love them, the generous families of donors and the donors themselves. We are honored to have been chosen as the LifeLink partner in this incredible endeavor.”
About Piedmont Transplant Institute
Since 1986, Piedmont Transplant Institute has been recognized as one of the nation’s most successful transplant programs and has made a positive difference in the lives of families nationwide. Throughout its operating history, Piedmont Transplant Institute has performed over 3,200 total transplant surgeries and currently ranks in the top 15% of U.S. abdominal transplant programs in terms of transplant surgeries completed per year. Piedmont Transplant Institute has a Medicare certified transplant program in liver, pancreas, kidney and heart.
Piedmont Transplant Institute is recognized as a pioneer that continually looks for innovative ways to safely perform transplant surgeries for those in need. They are credited with many industry firsts, including the first in Georgia to perform a Paired Donor Transplant and the first to offer Robotic Donor Nephrectomy.
About Piedmont Atlanta Hospital
Piedmont Atlanta Hospital is a leader in patient care that’s helped the Atlanta community get better and stay well for more than a century. Named the top acute-care community hospital in metro Atlanta in U.S. News and World Report’s Best Hospitals list, Piedmont Atlanta consistently ranks in the top five among metro Atlanta hospitals in patient experience scores.
About LifeLink of Georgia
LifeLink of Georgia is the federally designated, non-profit community service organization dedicated to the recovery of organs and tissues for transplantation throughout Georgia, as well as in Aiken and Edgefield counties in South Carolina. LifeLink of Georgia can also provide a presentation to local groups and organizations, businesses, schools and universities, etc. on the importance of donation; and/or facilitate an interview with a local organ recipient or donor family as part of a feature story to help further the Donate Life message throughout our community. For more information on LifeLink, or to register as an organ and tissue donor, visit www.LifeLinkFoundation.org.