During the White House Organ Transplant Summit on June 13, government officials have announced a $200 million pilot program aimed at shortening the list of patients awaiting organ transplant.

The program, led by the Walter Reed National Military Medical Center, is part of the integration of science and technology with organ transplant innovations. It will be a pioneering organ transplantation initiative that would start a chain of donation through the military share program — those individuals waiting for organ transplant will get organ donations from families of military service members in active duty.

"We are excited to participate in this initiative, which has the potential to increase organ allocation for our patients," said Department of Surgery Chair Eric Elster from the Walter Reed National Military Medical Center. "While it will require overcoming logistical barriers, we in military medicine excel at such challenges."

White House National Economic Council director Jeff Zients said that much of the public-private investment will also help support projects and researches focused on replacement and repair of tissues and cells. $160 million will be allocated for the Advanced Tissue Biofabrication Manufacturing Innovation Institute to work on next-generation development methods for cell therapies, while about $7 million will be allotted for small companies working on tissue preservation developments.

Zients added that there are about 120,000 individuals in the United States included in the donor waiting list, with as much as 80 percent of the patients awaiting kidney transplants.

He added that the economic burden of end-stage renal disease costs the federal government about $34 billion annually — 7 percent of the entire Medicare budget.

Several action plans announced during the summit include conversion of the 95 percent of organ donation supporters to actual registrants, assist cutting-edge research and innovations and increase number of transplants with improved patient outcomes by 2,000 annually.

Summit participants also called on modernization of the donor registration system, which was created in 1968. Improvement of registration process via social media declaration was proposed. At present, Tinder, Facebook and Twitter are developing new methodologies and are looking to improve numbers of new donor registrations to 1 million before this year ends.

Incoming president of the American Society of Transplant Surgeons Timothy Pruett said the program is an important thrust toward organ transplantation but called for more sustainable efforts.

"I appreciate the White House shining a spotlight on this critical issue and look forward to seeing what the new collaborations it has inspired will bring," said Pruett.

In a recent Tech Times report, a man awaiting heart transplant lived for more than a year with an artificial heart inside his backpack.

Photo: Anthony Devlin/PA Wire | Flickr

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