Preserving Precious Assets
After his father received a lifesaving heart transplant, David Kravitz founded Organ Recovery Systems to extend the life of harvested organs. Kravitz’s LifePort Kidney Transporter passes a chemical solution through kidneys, doubling their storage time. The first kidney perfused by LifePort was transplanted on August 28. Almost 40 LifePort units are now being used in more than a dozen transplant centers across the country. By year’s end, 150 will be deployed in more than 50 centers.
From David’s original entry:
Tell us what you do (or what your team or organization does) and the specific challenge you faced.
According to the United Network of Organ Sharing (UNOS), more than 80,000 people in the United States await transplants of major organs including kidneys, hearts, livers, pancreas, and lungs – 55,000 of those wait for a kidney transplant, the organ in greatest demand. An enormous disparity exists between donor supply and patient demand. David Kravitz founded Organ Recovery Systems to develop technologies that address this growing imbalance. David realized that more organs could be made available focusing on the “front end” of transplantation and finding a way to utilize expanded criteria organs–largely unused due to pre-existing donor medical conditions such as age, hypertension or diabetes. Five years after the company’s inception, the LifePort Kidney Transporter(TM), was cleared by the FDA and began to improve the quality and number of organs available for transplant. Lifeport uses perfusion–the passing of chemical solutions through organs to minimize tissue damage–to improve the state of organs for transplantation.
What was your moment of truth?
David was inspired to develop improvements for the transplant community the day his father received a life-saving heart transplant. He knew his family was fortunate and wanted to help the thousands of other families anxiously waiting to receive a life saving organ. The bottom line: Organ Procurement Organizations (OPOs) that manage regional waiting lists need a way to increase the quality and number of organs available for transplant. It is a supply and demand crisis with painful consequences. David culled together a team of financiers, engineers, transplant specialists and quickly brought the first in a family of devices to market. His company’s perfusion technology is helping patients today and stands to save the US healthcare system millions of dollars.
What were the results?
LifePort Kidney Transporters are deployed in several leading transplant centers in the U.S. and an additional number of Transporters will deploy worldwide in the coming quarter. While perfusion has demonstrated to improve kidney quality it has also proven to safely prolong the average cold storage time for kidneys from the current 18 hours to 35+ hours. With extra time, kidney transplants may become elective rather than emergency procedures creating improved outcomes and decreased hospital costs. In a 2000-2002 pilot study, Organ Recovery Systems treated 1,328 donor kidneys. 634 kidneys were transplanted that would have been discarded, saving the system an estimated $35.4 million over a five-year period. Currently, LifePort could make more lifesaving organs available for those in need.