Science Policy

FAS Announces Organ Procurement Organization Innovation Cohort

05.04.21 | 3 min read | Text by Federation of American Scientists

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Today, the Federation of American Scientists (FAS), with financial support from Schmidt Futures, announced that six organ procurement organizations (OPOs) have joined the FAS Organ Procurement Organization Innovation Cohort, committing to use data science and transparency to accelerate improved patient outcomes and to inform ongoing, data-driven policy development. 

This follows the finalization of the bipartisan, scientifically-informed OPO rule that can save more than 7,000 lives each year, and which has been highlighted by both Senate and House leaders as an urgent equity issue. Given COVID-19’s potential to affect and attack organs, coupled with its disproportionate impact on communities of color, the need for reform is only intensifying.

Through the Federation of American Scientists, the OPO Innovation Cohort will share data to establish open and transparent lines of communication between OPOs as nonprofit government contractors and the public they serve, including branches of the federal government, in an effort to build trust and support further reforms that will save patient lives. (See data visualization from the OPO final rule here.)

Working with alumni from the United States Digital Service, over the next 12 months the Innovation Cohort will leverage the most granular OPO data ever shared with external researchers to inform ongoing policy development at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and in Congress. During a transformative period in the organ procurement industry, the Innovation Cohort will help shape the future of organ recovery in America, improving OPO practice and informing OPO policy. Most importantly, the Innovation Cohort will help return OPOs to their core mission by singly focusing on striving toward new heights of operational excellence in order to increase organ transplants in an effort to best serve the public, organ donors, donor families and patients waiting for transplants.

In the coming months, the FAS OPO Innovation Cohort will share additional de-identified, retrospective data with the Federation of American Scientists to be published openly – including all referrals for donation made to the OPOs with every outcome documented, audits of hospital-level deaths, OPO financials (including organ acquisition charges), procurement and organ recovery data from organ recovery centers, and staffing models – and will work actively to source data science partners and researchers to mine these datasets for performance improvement insights.

“COVID-19’s ravaging effect on organs has further increased the urgency of accelerating accountability for the government’s contractors in organ donation. Transparency is a critical first step, and the Federation of American Scientists applauds today’s commitments from six OPO leaders to break from their peers and prioritize patients and the public interest.”

Federation of American Scientists Acting President Dan Correa

“So many of the problems and inefficiencies of the organ waiting list are solvable, but we need a new, data-driven approach. We look forward to seeing how the OPO Innovation Cohort, paired with interdisciplinary talent, can bring transformational change to a sector in dire need of it.”

Schmidt Futures Managing Director and Head of Partnerships Kumar Garg


The six OPO CEOs below have underscored their commitment to the following principles:

Diane Brockmeier, Mid-America Transplant

Helen Irving, LiveOnNY

Ginny McBride, Our Legacy

Patti Niles, Southwest Transplant Alliance

Kelly Ranum, Louisiana Organ Procurement Agency

Matthew Wadsworth, LifeConnection of Ohio


Further, as the House Committee on Oversight and Reform is investigating “poor performance, waste, and mismanagement in organ transplant industry”, the OPOs in the FAS OPO Innovation Cohort offer themselves as a resource for Congressional staff, noting their commitment to transparency, accountability, and equity, setting a standard to which all OPOs should be held. The participating OPOs have informed AOPO that they are leaving AOPO, noting the Committee’s investigation into AOPO’s “lobbying against life-saving reforms.”

A full visualization of the final rule from Bloom can be viewed here.