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OneLegacy Organ Transplant Service Moves into New HQ and Organ Donation Facility in Azusa

Organ transplant nonprofit OneLegacy earlier this month opened the nation’s largest transplant donor recovery center in the San Gabriel Valley city of Azusa.
The $100 million, 160,000-square-foot center contains surgical and recovery facilities for both organ donors and organ recipients, as well as diagnostic and laboratory services. The project also includes a multi-level parking garage.

The center also serves as OneLegacy’s new headquarters, replacing its longtime home in downtown Los Angeles.
According to a spokesman, OneLegacy funded the project primarily through earnings generated from organ transplant procedures; the nonprofit also cut some costs to save money for the project.

LA-Architects served as the principal architect for the project; the general contractor was Irwindale-based PNG Builders.

The new center houses seven intensive donation care unit beds, seven operating rooms, full-service diagnostic imaging and laboratory services, as well as therapy rooms for donor families. It also features the nation’s first helipad designed exclusively to facilitate emergency transport of surgeons and organs to reduce crucial wait times and boost survival chances for those waiting for an organ transplant.

“The center will aid OneLegacy’s groundbreaking innovations in organ donation diagnostics, real-time digital communications with transplant centers nationwide and sensitive family care for families from across the most ethnically diverse community in the nation,” OneLegacy’s new Chief Executive Prasad Garimella said in the opening announcement. “In tripling the size of our current facility in Redlands, the center will serve as a critical connector for Southern California’s regional healthcare system.”

Aside from the medical facilities, the center provides office space and a training center for a current staff of 350 donation professionals. Also housed in the new facility is the OneLegacy Foundation, which has raised funds and awareness to improve organ, eye and tissue donation and transplantation through public education and scientific research.

The nonprofit OneLegacy started in the 1970s as a gap-filler in the region’s organ transplant network. The main organ donation and transplant entity for the region was housed at the time at UCLA’s medical center. But after for-profit organ donations were banned in 1984, the industry went through a difficult financial patch. By the early 1990s, the UCLA-run organ transplant service was forced to close and OneLegacy expanded to fill in the gap. Over the next 20 years, it became the largest of 58 organ donation and transplant organizations that comprise the United States’ organ donation network. The network as a whole has enabled the U.S. to achieve the highest deceased donor transplant rate of any country and an organ donation rate nearly double that of Europe.

But that’s still not enough to meet demand for organ transplants. According to OneLegacy’s announcement, more than 106,000 Americans – including 21,000 Californians – are currently waiting for a donor and the need for transplants is growing faster than potential donors, as less than 1% of all deaths qualify for donation. One organ donor can save up to eight lives, one cornea donor can restore sight to two people and one tissue donor can heal as many as 75 others.

Last year, using its temporary Redlands organ donation facility, OneLegacy enabled the transplant of 1,688 organs from 591 donors. Additionally, more than 155,000 lives were healed through tissue donation and transplantation and 1,037 vision-restoring corneal transplants were completed.

In April, OneLegacy announced Garimella as its new chief executive, replacing longtime chief executive Thomas Mone, who shifted over to running the OneLegacy Foundation and community outreach efforts.

Howard Fine
Howard Fine
Howard Fine is a 23-year veteran of the Los Angeles Business Journal. He covers stories pertaining to healthcare, biomedicine, energy, engineering, construction, and infrastructure. He has won several awards, including Best Body of Work for a single reporter from the Alliance of Area Business Publishers and Distinguished Journalist of the Year from the Society of Professional Journalists.
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