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Southwest Transplant Alliance: Real-Time Location Tracking = Facilitating the Gift of Life

February 5, 2024

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How Real-Time Location Tracking Plays a Vital Role in Facilitating the Gift of Life

For more than 40 years, the Southwest Transplant Alliance (STA), a Dallas-based organ procurement organization (OPO)serving more than 10,000 Texans, has helped save and heal lives by recovering donated organs and tissues for transplantation. On average, STA recovers and allocates approximately 115 organs per month, said Reid Freeman,STA’s Director of Clinical Excellence.

More than 105,000 men, women, and children are currently on the national transplant waiting list in need of a lifesaving gift.STA bridges the gap between the sorrow of one life ending and the hope that another critically ill patient receives the organ they desperately need. It’s a very involved process occurring within strict time frames:

  • Obtaining authorization from families for organ recovery
  • Gathering pertinent details from disparate systems
  • Evaluating which organs are suitable for transplantation
  • Maintaining organ function mechanically prior to recovery
  • Allocating organs to the appropriate transplant centers
  • Coordinating the recovery process and transportation to the transplant center
  • The prep time alone can take up to 48 hours
“The ability to visualize where everything is at one time is critical. To get that level of insight, STA relies on Tive’s hyper-accurate Solo 5G tracker and real-time visibility solution. “

Reid Freeman
Director of Clinical Excellence, STA

How Do You Know an Organ Gets to Where It’s Needed?

A few years ago, Southwest Transplant Alliance began working with Airspace Technologies, its standard carrier for transporting transplant organs, blood samples, and more. Though largely successful, the companies realized that if they did not receive a phone call confirming delivery, there was no way to know if an organ had arrived at a transplant center.

That is a gaping blind spot, considering that each organ has a limited time from recovery to ensure that it is viable for transplantation.

Other challenges include:
  • Diverse packaging: Organs can be transported inboxes and coolers on ice or on a pump
  • Location & condition organ tracking: Including light exposure and temperature excursions
  • Equipment tracking: Not knowing where a box, cooler, or pump is or when it will be returned could jeopardize future transplants
  • Multiple transport options: Couriers, commercial flights, private charters, staff-driven, and other transport teams
  • Expense & time: Most solutions are not cheap and require users to return the tracker, creating a reverse logistics nightmare
  • Lack of configurability: With most solutions, what you see is what you get
“We needed to track every single organ that leaves one of our recoveries. Airspace, already a Tive customer, said ‘they can meet the needs we’re looking for.’ ”

Reid Freeman

The Solo 5G Tracker & Real-Time Visibility Check All the Boxes

The Solo 5G tracker captures and transmits shipment data in real time with unprecedented accuracy. Its cellular, WiFi, and GPS technology is accurate to within 10 meters. STA can view each shipment’s location and condition data in real-time to assure on-time delivery.

This comprehensive solution stood out among competitors for several reasons:

Ease of Use

The trackers are activated with the press of a button and provide multiple options for attaching them to boxes, coolers, and pumps.

Disposable & Green Options

With Tive, “it’s essentially one-way traffic,” Freeman said. “Knowing we don’t have to get them back is important. We use the Get Green Program and, as a result, about 50% of our shipped trackers are returned.”

Web Application Flexibility

The ability to change up the battery life and manage the update cadence of how often it’s pinging you. “Having that configurability and visualization is very important,” Freeman said.

Every time STA sends an organ for transplantation, it receives the link for the tracker and places it into its EMR system.

“If a surgeon wonders when his patient’s organ will arrive, he can log into the system, click on that link, and see its exact current location.”

Reid Freeman

With Visualization Comes Peace of Mind

Transport teams often utilize charter flights when recovering and transporting transplantable organs. Sometimes those planes need to make emergency landings. Other times, the transplant center loses contact with the transport team, or maybe a driver is involved in an accident, or another event causes delays. The visualization Tive provides gives “peace of mind that we have the ability to see exactly where everything is in real-time,” Freeman said.

With that peace of mind comes:

Time & Resource Savings

No more repeated phone calls and driving around to locate STA equipment.

More Efficient Planning

Timing is everything with organ transplants.
If a transplant team can see that an organ is mere minutes away, they can put the recipient to sleep for the procedure.

Knowing When Something Goes Wrong

If the tracker suddenly detects light exposure in a cooler not yet at its destination, STA can investigate why and start mitigation steps.

Confidence Amid Increased Security

The U.S. Senate is investigating UNOS, the organization overseeing the Organ Procurement and Transplantation Network and its 57 OPOs, and how they handle transporting organs.

Tive Helps STA Save More Lives

“By putting advanced technology into place, we maintain visualization of the lifesaving gifts we recover throughout every step of the process. STA is proud to serve as an early adopter of innovative solutions that ultimately allow us to save more lives.”

Reid Freeman