Since it was founded in 1979, Alabama Organ Center (AOC) has witnessed the benefits to their patients from pumping kidneys — a 25 percent reduction in acute tubular necrosis, better outcomes, and shorter stays in the hospital. For most of their 30 years, AOC used the same pumping system. However, in 2008, AOC converted its perfusion lab entirely to LifePort® Kidney Transporters.
AOC is a semi-independent organ procurement organization (OPO) affiliated with University of Alabama Hospital in Birmingham (UAB). In 2008, UAB’s kidney disease program was ranked 14th in the nation by U.S. News and World Report. AOC played a key role in establishing UAB as one of the largest kidney transplant programs nationally, pumping approximately 300 kidneys each year with a discard rate less than 10 percent.
As a progressive health system that is always looking for ways to improve patient safety and outcomes, UAB and AOC were interested in the innovative technology that LifePort had to offer.
"In making the decision to switch to LifePort, we closely scrutinized the progress made in machine preservation over the years and felt that Organ Recovery Systems was delivering new technology now and was committed to research and development to improve machine pump preservation in the future," said Dem Lalisan, director of the Alabama Organ Center. "We wanted to look into the future of organ preservation and determine which products would bring the greatest benefit to our patients."
When Organ Recovery Systems engineered LifePort, they listened to the concerns of OPOs and transplant surgeons to improve on machine perfusion technology.
One important benefit to AOC is the single cassette of the LifePort design. "Because LifePort has one cassette, it gives us the advantage of being able to take two kidneys to two separate locations at the same time," said Alan Hicks, associate director of the AOC. "It also minimizes the possibility of cross contamination that could occur if two (en bloc) kidneys sharing a single cassette are being handled by a surgeon."
The LifePort data station supports remote viewing of how well a kidney is perfusing. Through a secure Internet connection, a UAB transplant surgeon has the ability to log in to AOC’s perfusion data from the operating room, and review data. With electronic data available, grafts and perfusion times can be easily added to the patient’s chart or electronic medical record.
Easy access to electronic data and the history of an organ has other advantages. "…We can electronically share organ data with centers across the country. Another … center may feel the kidney is viable, and we can make that organ available to their patients. Our goal is to maximize the gift," said Lalisan.
Alabama Organ Center has provided more than 4,000 kidneys for transplantation, as well as hundreds of other transplantable organs. According to the United Network for Organ Sharing nearly 3,000 patients in Alabama and over 76,000 across the U.S. are currently on the waiting list for kidneys.