KODA Response to Article in The Washington Post 12/20/18

Kentucky Organ Donor Affiliates, Kentucky’s largest organ procurement organization (OPO), serves this community with a core purpose to honor the gift of donation.  We provide education, coordinate organ, and tissue recoveries, and support families to maximize every opportunity for the gift of life.  Everyone at KODA is dedicated to respecting the referral process and having the dialogues that find the pathway to donation.

Occasionally we are presented with challenges that may prevent donation from occurring, and our teams are committed to finding ways to allow that gift to be realized.  Our Leadership Team has taken an in‐depth analysis of past and current procedures to ensure the priority is the maximization of organ and tissue donations.

“KODA has surpassed all expected performance criteria based on the validated, federally accepted metrics in prior years and is on track for a record number of donations and transplanted organs again in 2019. However, this exceptional performance is not demonstrated in the metrics put forth in the recent article by The Washington Post.  These journalists have manipulated the data set surrounding hospital deaths to imply a significantly larger pool of potential donors than truly exists. Specifically, they have not taken into account the health, religious, and cultural differences that impact authorization and suitability for donation across the various regions of the United States, and especially in the southeast,” says Julie Bergin, BSN, MHA, FACHE, President & CEO of Kentucky Organ Donor Affiliates.

For over three decades, federal and professional association bodies have researched and developed metrics that have scientific integrity, are meaningful, understandable and risk-adjusted.  KODA has supported these efforts and will continue to work closely with these agencies to ensure we are accurately assessing an opportunity to improve our performance.  We continue to surpass these established standards and receive consistent recertification and accreditation.  Through a process of continuous quality improvement, KODA and all OPOs strive to find avenues to increase the number of donations and transplants, ultimately saving more lives.

KODA is proud of two groundbreaking years in a row:

  • 2018 marked our most significant number of lifesaving organs transplanted in our history, 406 organs to date. Donation after cardiac death increased by 380%.  25% of our organ donors were older than age 50.  16% of our organ donors tested positive for Hepatitis C or B.  In 2017, now the third most successful year in KODA’s history, we coordinated the transplantation of 361 organs.
  • In 2018, so far, 358 heroic tissue donors have changed and healed lives. The second highest number in our history.  This is an increase from a groundbreaking year in 2017 of 330 tissue donors.  Each year, an estimated 30,000 recipients are healed through this gift.
  • For the past three years, we have supported and continue to provide aftercare for over 1,500 families who said “yes” to saving and healing lives through transplantation & research.

As an organization, we believe there is always an opportunity for process improvement and work to ensure staff is trained, educated and comfortable with all current practices.  Many enhanced clinical and community programs have been established and rolled out in recent years.  We have received national recognition for our clinical and community education efforts, including national awards from Association for American Tissue Banks two years in a row for “Groundbreaking Education” and Donate Life America’s “Pinnacle Award – Innovation.”  This successful community education has led to an increase in the number of Kentuckians registered as organ, tissue, and cornea donors to 59.5%.

We believe that The Washington Post is attempting to find a way to save more lives awaiting a lifesaving transplant.  That is where we share common ground.  However, we strongly disagree with the way The Washington Post’s metrics represent the donor potential across the United States.  There are significant factors that influence the calculation of true organ donor potential including many that are outside the control of any OPO.

KODA is honored to serve our heroic donor families, transplant recipients and those still waiting. Our team continues to strive to meet the unending needs of this population every day.  KODA will continue to seek opportunities to spread education about donation and facilitate all donation opportunities with compassion, dedication, and accountability.

About Kentucky Organ Donor Affiliates

Kentucky Organ Donor Affiliates (KODA) is dedicated to saving lives through organ and tissue donation and transplantation. KODA was formed in 1987, pulling together two hospital-based organ procurement groups, to establish a statewide educational and procurement network. KODA is an independent, non-profit organ and tissue procurement agency and was recognized by Louisville Business First as the Nonprofit of the Year in 2011. KODA currently serves 114 counties in Kentucky, 4 counties in southern Indiana and 2 counties in western West Virginia.

For more information, visit http://www.kyorgandonor.org,

Contact: Shelley Snyder, Vice President of Strategic Partnerships
Cell: 502-322-5401 or s.snyder@kodaorgan.org