Northwestern Medicine Transplant Surgeons Join White House Efforts to Increase Access to Organ Transplants, Reduce Organ Waiting List

Northwestern Medicine
Organ Donation and Transplantation July 05, 2016
On Monday, June 13, Northwestern Medicine transplant surgeon Jason Wertheim, MD, PhD, traveled to Washington, DC, to participate in the White House Organ Summit hosted by the Obama Administration. At the Summit, Dr. Wertheim joined Senior Administration Officials and representatives from companies, foundations, universities, hospitals and patient advocacy organizations that are working to increase access to organ transplants, reduce the organ waiting list and even develop new regenerative medicine technologies to one day create tissues and organs for all patients in need of a transplant.
“I was honored to be a part of this Summit that brought together key stakeholders from both the public and private sector to address issues impacting organ availability and new technologies to improve organ donation and transplant outcomes,” said Dr. Wertheim, a transplant surgeon at Northwestern Memorial Hospital and an assistant professor at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine. “Working together, we can find solutions that will save more lives and improve transplant care and outcomes across the country.”
At Northwestern, Dr. Wertheim leads a research lab that is advancing the state of art in organ regeneration and tissue engineering to develop methods to develop liver and kidney tissue as a leading-edge solution to the organ shortage dilemma. 
Every 10 minutes, someone is added to the waiting list for a life-saving organ transplant in the United States. And every day, 22 people die while waiting. At the Summit, the Obama Administration announced a new set of actions that will build on the Administration’s efforts to improve outcomes for individuals waiting for organ transplants and support for living donors. Actions announced aim to:
  • Close the gap between the 95 percent of Americans who support organ donation and the roughly 50 percent who are registered
  • Invest in clinical research and innovation that could potentially increase the number of transplants by almost 2,000 each year and improve outcomes for patients
  • Facilitate breakthrough research and development in organ and tissue engineering with almost $200 million in federal, state and industry investment in tissue bio manufacturing.
As part of a set of commitments aimed at increasing the number of transplants and improving outcomes for patients, Northwestern Medicine transplant surgeon Juan Carlos Caicedo, MD, who is director of the Hispanic Transplant Program at Northwestern Memorial and associate professor at the Feinberg School of Medicine, joined transplant physicians at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, Duke University School of Medicine, Emory University, Mount Sinai Hospital, Temple University and the University of California Los Angeles to form a Blue Ribbon Advisory Panel committed to establishing a national clearinghouse of educational resources about transplant and living donation for patients, living donors, and the interested public.
The goals of the panel are to ensure informed transplant and living donation decision-making and equity in access to quality information to combat barriers that research suggests limits access to transplants. Resources will be made publicly available by the end of the summer of 2017.
Dr. Caicedo heads the Hispanic Transplant Program at the Kovler Organ Transplantation Center at Northwestern Memorial. To help Spanish-speaking patients and their families feel more comfortable, the program supports the longstanding goal of providing individualized patient care by offering culturally and linguistically competent and congruent services for Hispanic patients undergoing kidney, pancreas and liver transplantation. The program has a bilingual and bicultural team made up of surgeons, physicians, a social worker, a financial coordinator, a clinical research coordinator and other support staff. More information on the Hispanic Transplant Program: English or En español.
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