Research, Therapy and Non-Traditional Transplants

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WRTC is proud to offer a variety of new and innovative ways in which donors and their families can save and enhance lives beyond traditional organ and tissue donation and transplantation. Through our research programs, donors are able to donate organs, tissue systems and individual tissues to far-reaching medical research and therapy.

All of our partners strive to save lives through the development and implementation of innovative therapies for disease and trauma. WRTC is an accredited member of the American Association of Tissue Banks (AATB), one of the only national tissue banking organizations in the United States. Together, with all other 120 accredited tissue banks and 1,875 individual members, tissue has been recovered from more than 39,000 donors annually in the U.S.

In tissue banking, both for-profit and not-for-profit organizations operate to make up a network of tissue banks, organ procurement organizations and eye banks that recover and distribute tissue.

Research Happenings

So far in 2021, WRTC has recovered 154 non-transplantable organs and tissues from benevolent donors for important medical research. These gifts are helping to saving lives because our research partners use the organs and tissue to learn more about disease and develop new and innovative therapies for patients.

Coming soon, WRTC will participate in the pediatric Developmental Genotype-Tissue Expression (dGTEx) project with the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and National Disease Research Interchange (NDRI). WRTC is one of seven organ procurement organizations (OPOs) who will recover neonatal/pediatric organ and tissue samples to help researchers understand gene expression and function through different stages of development in the pediatric population. This project is important as there is typically a shortage of healthy or “normal” tissue to compare tissues from children with pediatric diseases. The knowledge gained from studying samples could potentially provide hope for children with some of those diseases. In recent years, WRTC supported a similar research project for adult donors.

Another exciting development is WRTC is actively recovering vertebral bodies for lifesaving bone marrow transplants. Working with Ossium Health, WRTC first began recovering bone marrow for research purposes in August 2018. Now the bone marrow we recover can be transplanted to people in need. According to Ossium Health, an estimated 20,000 people need a bone marrow transplant each year, however, only 30% have a relative who can be a living donor.