Using Supply Chain Management Principles to Improve the Organ Donation Process



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Despite improvements in medicine and technology, the number of people on the national transplant waiting list continues to significantly outweigh the number of viable organs available for transplant. The Organ Donation Process (ODP) has been studied and refined over the past decade, showing a slight increase in the number of successful transplants. However, most studies on improving steps of the ODP focus particularly on demand, i.e. allocation of organs. This study focuses on supply-side steps of the ODP, looking at what can be improved by the Organ Procurement Organization (OPO) and hospital from an operational standpoint. Though Supply Chain (SC) is typically taught in the field of business, many of the same principles apply to organ donation as it itself is a supply chain involving the coordination of multiple parties. This study is a mixed analysis – it pulls information and data from scientific journals, videos, personal interviews, the United Network for Organ Sharing (UNOS), and educational texts on Supply Chain. Based on research, certain parts of the ODP could be optimized in order to boost organ donation rates. Two significant areas that require improvement are (1) the relationship and communication between hospital and OPO workers and (2) the continuous, data-driven education of hospital workers on organ donation processes. Additionally, resource constraints on the nonprofit OPO and the multifaceted hospital must be addressed so that each organization can understand the other’s needs. By considering the organ donation supply chain, areas for improvement can be identified.