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Grant to Build Technology Center Will Carry U.S. Transplant System Forward

A one-million-dollar grant from The Richard and Helen DeVos Foundation will help enhance the information technology infrastructure that is used to manage the nation’s transplant system. Upgraded information technology will enable UNOS to optimize waitlist management, organ matching and distribution, ultimately benefiting the more than 90,000 people waiting for an organ transplant in the United States.

Through a contract with the federal government, the United Network for Organ Sharing operates the nation’s Organ Procurement and Transplantation Network, serving as the central hub for organ sharing in the United States, and collects and manages clinical data on transplant candidates, organ donors, and all transplant recipients in the United States.

Upgrading the equipment and software necessary to maintain the nation’s waiting list and match potential candidates with donors that become available, which are not covered under the contract, will be funded through the grant as will system repairs, placements, upgrades and enhancements.

Funding from the DeVosses will enable UNOS to build out a vacant floor of the UNOS building and construct a virtual testing environment or ‘testing lab.’ Plans include the creation and staffing of a technology lab for applications research, development and testing, as well as repair and maintenance of existing equipment.

According to UNOS Executive Director Walter Graham, “The lab will ensure UNOS’ ability to continually refine and upgrade the tools and technologies needed for optimal waitlist management, organ matching and distribution, and fail-safe operation of the national transplant database.”

Upon completion, the technology lab and information technology development and operations areas at UNOS will be renamed the ‘Richard DeVos Transplant Technology Center.

Richard DeVos, Co-founder of Amway Corporation, and a heart transplant recipient, owns the NBA Orlando Magic. DeVos and his wife Helen are long-time supporters of organ donation and transplantation efforts and UNOS. He serves as the co-chair of UNOS’ National Speakers’ Bureau and helped UNOS break ground for the National Donor Memorial.

The UNOS-developed UNetsm system is among the country’s most evolved interactive clinical databases available for scientific outcomes research and medical decision-making. In 1999, UNOS launched UNet, the interactive, fully secure network environment for organ matching, data collection and management. Every transplant hospital, organ procurement organization and tissue-matching laboratory across the United States is linked to UNetsm, making it the community’s “backbone” for sharing organs and sharing information. It has been recognized within and beyond the transplant community for its unprecedented capabilities and reliable performance.

UNet is in use 24 hours per day, 365 days per year and cannot be offline for testing of new technologies. In order to ensure that system enhancements deliver maximum performance, server testbeds will be built in the Center for Technology to evaluate the impact of hardware and software changes prior to release into the production environment.

The Organ Procurement and Transplantation Network (OPTN) is operated under contract with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Health Resources and Services Administration, Division of Transplantation by the United Network for Organ Sharing (UNOS). The OPTN brings together medical professionals, transplant recipients and donor families to develop organ transplantation policy.

UNOS’ headquarters are located in the Virginia BioTechnology Research Park in Richmond, Va. The facility is also the home of the National Donor Memorial to honor the spirit and the legacy of organ and tissue donors.

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