- The Washington Times - Friday, September 14, 2001

RICHMOND — The private network that runs the nation's transplant system received permission from the Federal Aviation Administration to use chartered planes to deliver transplant organs to needy patients during the FAA air-travel ban.
"It's on a case-by-case basis," United Network for Organ Sharing (UNOS) spokeswoman Anne Paschke said of the charters. The air deliveries were arranged by regional organ-procurement organizations, which then sought clearance from the FAA.
One of those chartered deliveries, however, helped create some tense moments in Seattle on Wednesday when an approved flight carrying a donor heart was intercepted and forced to land by a Navy F-16 fighter and a Canadian military jet.
Jill Steinhaus, spokeswoman for the organ-procurement organization LifeCenter Northwest, blamed the grounding on a "miscommunication."
The heart was quickly transferred to a helicopter and flown the final 80 miles of its journey from Anchorage, Alaska, to the University of Washington Medical Center, and doctors said it was successfully transplanted into Brian Cortez, 21.
Yesterday, an organ-transport driver was expected to arrive in Virginia Beach from Iowa after driving through the night to deliver critical tissue to LifeNet, an organ-procurement organization with branches in the resort city and Richmond.
The tissues include skin, which must be prepared and processed for transplantation within three days, and heart valves, which must be prepared and processed within about 48 hours, said Dena Reynolds, spokeswoman for LifeNet in Richmond.
The driver, Tom Jorgensen, received a liver transplant 12 years ago.
Since Tuesday, most organ deliveries have been on the ground, Miss Paschke said. UNOS did not have figures showing how many charter deliveries have been made.
Quick delivery is especially crucial when dealing with hearts and lungs for transplant, she said, because each can only be preserved between four and six hours.
While speed is crucial in the delivery of hearts and lungs, the capability of making a long-distance delivery is important when dealing with kidneys and pancreases, she said.
Kidneys are commonly preserved for up to 48 hours after procurement, but kidneys and pancreases are designated for recipients more on the basis of tissue matching than need.
"They tend to go a longer distance" to the most suitable recipients, she said.
Transplant livers can commonly be preserved for about 18 hours, and are matched more on the basis of need than genetic matching, Miss Paschke said.


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