OPO Presentations Highlight 2018 Research Recovery Workshop

For the third consecutive year, the Life Alliance Organ Recovery Agency in Miami, FL, hosted IIAM’s Research Recovery Workshop in January. In addition to training OPO staff in best surgical practices for organ and tissue recovery, this year’s workshop featured presentations by two regular participants — the Louisiana Organ Procurement Agency (LOPA) and the Washington Regional Transplant Community (WRTC) — who have been profiled in previous eJournal issues.

Laura LeGuin, BSN, Quality Donation Specialist at LOPA, which has been one of the most active partners in IIAM’s Neonatal Donor Program, introduced Kelsey and Jacob Wigington. Their daughter, Austin Rose Wigington, who was diagnosed in utero with a fatal diagnosis of anencephaly, lived for a precious hour after her birth on January 15, 2016; her pancreas, liver and lungs were donated for research.

As Jacob distributed bedside photos of Austin, Kelsey spoke about their donation odyssey. Shortly after the diagnosis, she found Purposeful Gift, a website of support and guidance established in 2013 by Bethany Conkel, the mother of IIAM’s first neonatal donor, Amalya Nathaniel, and our most prominent ambassador.

“The option of organ and tissue donation gave us a positive option for our child,” said Kelsey. “Through meeting the people that work in the areas of transplant and research, we were able to truly understand the impact our daughter had on the world and how much she is treasured by those who never knew her. The amount of respect that people in this field display for donors and their families is truly honorable and greatly appreciated.”

Kelsey’s father, in memory of his granddaughter, founded Austin’s Angels, a perinatal hospice program operated by Willis-Knighton Health System in Shreveport, LA. Following Kelsey’s presentation, LeGuin, who is devoted full time to neonatal donation, answered questions. LOPA has facilitated 11 neonatal donations, one of the highest totals by an OPO.

Jacob and Kelsey Wigington share a memorable moment with their children (l-r): Layne, Austin Rose and Charlie.

Jacob and Kelsey Wigington share a memorable moment with their children (l-r): Layne, Austin Rose and Charlie.

Manny Rasool, Manager of Research at WRTC, presented “Creating/Maximizing a Successful Research Program,” which traced the evolution of the OPO’s model initiative. WRTC created Rasool’s position in 2011 to identify and develop relationships with teams conducting research on organs and tissues. As a result, WRTC’s donations have increased by 300 percent from 2010 through 2015.

Rasool said, “Thank you IIAM for putting this workshop together! All of the presentations and the hands-on cadaver lab were very informative. I came away with renewed excitement about the opportunities we offer families through research. The workshop gets better every year! Well done.”

Mike Vara, IIAM’s Midwest and West Coast Regional Director, who administers the workshops, added, “Our host, Life Alliance, is affiliated with the University of Miami Medical Center — a true hospital-based partner. They were a fantastic partner to IIAM over these past years coordinating the event. Once again, the workshop was a partnership between IIAM and the NATCO/ISOP Perfusion Workshop and Wet Lab.”

Representatives from the following OPOs participated: Center for Donation and Transplant, Albany, NY; Dedicated Donor, Newport Beach, CA; Donor Network West, San Ramon, CA; Life Alliance, Miami, FL; LifeCenter, Bellevue, WA; LifeLink, Norcross, GA; LifeLink, Tampa, FL; LifeQuest, Gainesville, FL; LifeShare, Oklahoma City, OK; LifeSharing, San Diego, CA; Louisiana Organ Procurement Agency, Metairie, LA; TransLife, Maitland, FL; and Washington Regional Transplant Community, Falls Church, VA.

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