MTS is one link in transplantation process

February 24, 2012

Editor’s note: Justin Phelps is a communications coordinator at Mid-America Transplant Services (MTS). He will guest blog periodically in 2012 to give our readers a better understanding of MTS and the services it

Mid-America Transplant Services' donor memorial

provides. He may be reached at jphelps@mts-stl.org.

First, we at Mid-America Transplant Services would like to thank our friends at Barnes-Jewish Hospital for linking to our website often through this blog, and for inviting us to guest blog occasionally for the foreseeable future. We enjoy a great partnership with Barnes-Jewish.  

If you’ve not clicked on a link to MTS (and even if you have), I’m here to explain who we are and what we do.

MTS is the region’s Organ Procurement Organization (OPO) based in St. Louis.  An OPO is a non-profit organization responsible for coordinating the organ and tissue donation process at the hospitals within its service area and for increasing donor registration in its service area. MTS covers eastern Missouri, southern Illinois and northeastern Arkansas as designated by the federal government. We are one of 58 OPOs in the nation.

MTS was originally formed by six surgical pioneers in the 1960s. With Barnes Hospital and Saint Louis University Hospital operating competing transplant programs, this group of doctors created the Regional Dialysis Transplant Association (RDTA). The objective was to establish a fair allocation system for organ recovery with the passage of the 1969 Uniform Anatomical Gift Act, which legalized organ and tissue donation.

After a few name changes, the addition of current CEO Dean F. Kappel in 1986, and an organizational shift in focus from recipients to donor families, RDTA become Mid-America Transplant Services in 1990. Along its journey, MTS was the first OPO in the world to build an on-site surgical facility for organ recovery. This innovation streamlined the organ recovery process by allowing hospitals to care for patients while MTS monitored and prepared donors for recovery at its own custom-built facility. It also reduced delays to ensure a timely funeral for the donor family.

The work of MTS, by its very nature, requires a level of care and compassion that can only be delivered by the “human touch.” Our goals are directly linked to creating a meaningful donation experience for everyone involved. Our compassion for everyone – donor families, recipients, hospital partners, each other, etc. – is a hallmark of our organization.  We’re especially honored to support the Donor Family through the process, and humbled daily by their generosity.

Back to our responsibilities … Increasing donor registration is a huge initiative for MTS in 2012. A year-long study revealed that in St. Louis city a low number of individuals have joined the donor registry. MTS is now working in this area to increase donor registrations at the license offices, where 98 percent of registrations occur.

Additionally, MTS staff provides in-service training to hospital staff on the donation process, utilizes registry drives through the community to spread awareness (http://www.mts-stl.org/get-involved/register-for-donation/event-kits/), and invites area classrooms to attend an on-site program which includes a tour of our facility (http://www.mts-stl.org/learn/resources-for-teachers/).

The coordination of donation is a process we’ll address in the near future with a series here. In short though, MTS partner with the hospitals in its service area to be notified of every death that occurs in these hospitals. That notification triggers the entire process. After donation, MTS offers a number of services to the Donor Family and transplant recipients through the Center for Life (http://www.mts-stl.org/support/center-for-life/) and volunteer opportunities (http://www.mts-stl.org/get-involved/become-a-volunteer/), which we’ll discuss more in depth at a later date.

Today, MTS serves more than 110 donor hospitals with a mission to save lives through excellence in organ and tissue donation. We hope you’ll join us by registering – and encouraging others to register – at www.donatelife.net/register-now/ .

From the Barnes-Jewish social media team: 1. Did we mention how thrilled we are to have Justin guest blogging for us on behalf of  Mid-America Transplant Services? 2. If you want to learn more about MTS and the great group of people who work there, check out their video: http://youtu.be/uyyTeH-Dofk

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Category: Organ donation, Transplant

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