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The Power of Research

At WRTC, we realize the power of scientific and medical research and its ability to save lives and heal patients. Therefore, donors can donate organs and tissues, unsuitable for transplants, to far-reaching medical research and therapy initiatives. In 2018, WRTC engaged eight new research partners approved by the Board of Directors and the Organ and Tissue Advisory Committee (OTAC). Here is a sampling of just a few of the innovative projects WRTC is involved in.

Partial Foot Transplants

Our new collaboration with MedStar Georgetown Transplant Institute will help kidney and pancreas transplant recipients who struggle with diabetes and non-healing heel ulcers. These patients have a high risk for eventual amputation of the involved foot, resulting in higher rates of disability and decreased life expectancy. WRTC will soon start recovering a foot in combination with a pancreas from the same donor to increase the recipient’s chances of achieving a diabetes-free, infection free and highly functional quality of life.

Bone Marrow Recovery

WRTC is recovering vertebral bodies from deceased organ donors for bone marrow research conducted by Ossium Health. The bone marrow is being used to research the feasibility of developing a cell therapy to cure blood cancers such as leukemia, improve organ transplantation and repair damage from radiation. Ossium Health is also exploring the potential of one day transplanting bone marrow from deceased donors rather than relying on living donors who currently undergo an invasive and painful process.

NIH Cancer Treatment Study

The National Cancer Institute (NCI) at The National Institute of Health (NIH) is studying the ways cancer spreads and new targets for cancer therapies. To assist with the study, WRTC is recovering livers, pancreata and intestines to place on an Ex-vivo perfusion machine (or pump) at NIH for seven-14 days to see how drugs access the organ and treat the cancer. The success of this research could make great leaps forward for cancer therapy and could ultimately help treat and potentially cure an incredible number of patients.

Thanks to our generous donors, WRTC allocated 92 organs for research in 2018, which ranks 7th in the nation among 58 organ procurement organizations. In addition, WRTC recovered 80 tissues for research purposes.