Association of Organ Procurement Organizations Annual Meeting: First-person account from AlloSource Rep  |  July 13, 2010

The theme of this year’s 27th annual meeting of the Association of Organ Procurement Organizations (AOPO) was Focus on the Future.

The Tissue Council Meeting headed up the agenda on day one. The Tissue Council membership is made up of representatives from many different OPOs and tissue banks across the country.  The highlight of the council meeting was a panel discussion held between attendees and senior representatives from the major tissue processors in the US.  The panelists discussed the changing landscape of tissue banking and what they foresee the course of tissue transplantation will be in the future, including cells/live cell grafts as the future of tissue donation.

Several presentations and discussions were held on first person consent/donor designation and state-based donor registries.  Across the country OPOs are doing innovative things to increase public awareness of their state registries and increasing the numbers of people registered as organ, tissue and eye donors.  It was pointed out that when a donor family knows that their loved one wished to be a donor, it makes the donation process much easier.  Thus, OPOs are encouraging registered donors to share their wishes with their families.

One of the highlights of the meeting was the ceremony of the Crystal Heart Award, which is presented to a donor family dedicated to donation and transplantation.  This year the award was presented to Jill Stephenson.  Her son, Cpl. Ben Kopp, was killed in action while serving in Afghanistan.  Ben’s mother was approached about organ donation.  While facing the loss of her only child, she made the courageous decision to say yes.  Read more about this amazing story in the Washington Post here. “It helps my sorrow; it eases my pain. It really does,” Jill told the Post of knowing that Ben’s donation helped others. “I know that Ben wanted to help save lives . . . and it really prolongs Ben’s life and honors his memory so much and honors me in that we could save other lives.”

Thanks to all those who participated this year.  After attending, I am sure that the future of donation is bright.

–          Heather Luders, Donor Field Services Representative

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