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Wednesday, Apr 24, 2024

A History of Innovation and Leading the Way in Organ Donation

Organ donation provides a second chance at life for thousands of Americans each year. Here locally, the not-for-profit OneLegacy works in partnership with more than 200 hospitals, local transplant centers and coroners’ offices to act as the bridge to life for nearly 20 million Southern Californians, including those waiting for a lifesaving organ, eye or tissue transplant.

By investing in innovation, building a unique healthcare professional team and forming a strong connection to the communities they serve, OneLegacy has tripled lifesaving and healing donation across Southern California, including a record transplant of 1,688 organs from 591 donors in 2021. Among the many OneLegacy innovations that are positively impacting the industry include the creation of:

• The world’s first electronic Donor Record that leverages the reach of the web, advancing beyond the fax machine and phone. This enabled OneLegacy clinicians to offer an organ to dozens of waiting recipients at once, rather than have to make one call at a time, only to find too often that a recipient was unable to accept it, sometimes resulting in organs
“timing out” before they could be successfully transplanted.
• The world’s first real-time testing for HIV and Hepatis C, giving transplant surgeons confidence that each organ is safe to transplant, thus enabling more and safer transplants.
• The world’s largest and most visible education drive by originating and serving as lead sponsor for the Donate Life Rose Parade Float on New Year’s Day, garnering 1.5 billion media impressions each year.
• Donate Life Hollywood that help share with Hollywood real life dramatic, accurate, and inspiring stories that share the power of donation and transplantation in order to counter the fictitious story lines that too often cluttered media with myths that frighten people from becoming registered donors.

These innovations are just a piece of the OneLegacy story because at the end of the day, organ donation occurs at a highly personal, emotional, and oftentimes overwhelming time in a family’s life. It is at those moments that OneLegacy’s team of healthcare professionals help families find hope at their darkest hours…hope that comes from discovering the power of leaving a legacy that celebrates and keeps alive the memory of their loved one. To connect with families, OneLegacy was a very early adopter of the intentional strategy of recruiting staff from and reflective of the communities and cultures they serve, so that families are comfortable and more easily trust in the OneLegacy staff serving them and their donation. Today OneLegacy is the most diverse donation agency in the nation, mirroring Southern California’s population that is nearly 70% persons of color and 50% first and second generation immigrants.

The success OneLegacy has seen in increasing the number of donors and recipients is also the direct result of its remarkable team of healthcare professionals who understood the value of rewriting the organ donation playbook. This started with recruiting long term hospital leaders to develop and ensure a partnership with local hospitals that care for families and patients whose injuries are too severe to survive, but who can save another patient and family from such a loss.

OneLegacy’s leadership team also benefitted from the strategic decision to become The Donation Agency, not just for organ donation but also sight-saving cornea and healing tissue as well. This decision was crucial as the “art of medicine” – guided by transplant physician judgement as to what organ was best for their patients – merged with the science of tissue donation and transplant that is closely regulated and overseen by the FDA whose policies and process management is designed with zero tolerance for disease transmission. The result is that in 2021, the OneLegacy Eye Bank enabled 1,037 vision-restoring corneal transplants, which represented a 4% increase from 2020. Additionally, in 2021 more than 155,000 lives were healed through tissue donation and transplantation.

OneLegacy has also developed a “physician-guided” case management system which brings into company leadership physicians with specialties in general surgery, intensive care, palliative care and transplantation. This team – drawn from local communities of many cultures – is invaluable as the field of transplantation becomes even more complex with the emergence of new technologies that are excepted to allow the transplantation of organs that would heretofore have been deemed too risky to transplant.

This fall, OneLegacy will open in Azusa its new headquarters and its second Transplant Donation Center, the largest free-standing donation center in the world. This center will bring together the most sophisticated diagnostic laboratory, imaging and surgical facilities needed by transplant surgeons to maximize the number of organs and tissues that can be recovered, enabling the saving of more lives. The OneLegacy Azusa Recovery Center will feature the nation’s first helipad designed exclusively to facilitate emergency transport of surgeons and organs to ensure their timely transit needed to save the lives of desperately waiting recipients. The center will also house OneLegacy 24-7 Call Center and Organ Offer and Allocation team who make sure that organs rapidly get to their intended recipients.

Learn more at onelegacy.org.


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