Beginning next year, hundreds of deceased organ donors from Springfield, Peoria and other parts of central and northern Illinois will be taken by ambulance to operating rooms in a suburban Chicago building where their organs will be removed for transplant.
This will be a big departure from the current system, in which doctors procure organs at the hospitals where patients die, then pack the organs in cold storage and carry them to hospitals where the transplants take place.
The new system, known as “in-house organ recovery,” already is being used by organ-procurement organizations based in St. Louis, Philadelphia and Ann Arbor, Mich. It’s about to start in Indianapolis and is being considered in other parts of the country.
In-house recovery involves moving brain-dead organ donors to a single procurement location while their blood circulation and breathing are maintained by a respirator to preserve the organs with minimal damage.
One of the main reasons for the switch is to reduce the time organs are stored outside the body before being transplanted, according to officials from the Gift of Hope Organ & Tissue Donor Network.
Reducing storage time makes it more likely the organs will work, and work for a longer period, for recipients of life-changing transplants, Gift of Hope officials said.