Susan L. Smith, MN, PhD


March 28, 2003

Evolution of the OPO Coordinator

Until the early 1970s, the same group of physicians who recovered, preserved, and allocated donor organs were also responsible for the transplant surgery and posttransplant care of the recipient.[3] But as the field of transplantation advanced, this approach was not able to meet the needs of the growing number of patients seeking transplantation and, subsequently, the role of the OPO coordinator evolved.

An OPO coordinator is usually a nurse or physician assistant who, in addition to having responsibility for donor evaluation, donor management, organ allocation, and organ recovery and preservation, is responsible for public and professional education and hospital development. OPO coordinators work hand-in-hand with the nurses and physicians in hospitals in their community to ensure that every potential donor is identified and their families are offered the opportunity to donate. The roles and responsibilities of the OPO coordinator, as well as the United Network for Organ Sharing (UNOS) and the organ procurement and transplantation network, are described and discussed in detail in Chapter 5 of this book, "Policy and Practice in Organ Transplantation,"[4] and in another Medscape program, Donation and Transplantation: Into the New Millennium.[5] A crucial role of the OPO coordinator, coordination of donor and recipient activities, is described in "Organ Procurement"[6] in ACS Surgery.


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