UNOS & OPTN’s Board of Directors

Final Rule 2000, aka CFR 42, Part 121 establishes membership criteria for OPTN Board of Directors, which should be composed of:

– 50% of members should be transplant surgeons or transplant physicians;
– at least 25 percent should be transplant candidates, transplant recipients, organ donors and family members. They should have with no ties to OPOs, transplant centers, voluntary health organizations, transplant coordinators, histocompatibility experts, or other non-physician transplant professionals, but the Board can wave this restriction for up to 50% of these members.

Anyone know the definition of ‘voluntary health organization’? Me neither.

Some quick math:

41 elected members
50% = 20.5
25% = 10.25
50% of that = 5.125

SO, out of 41 OPTN Board Members, only 4/5 need to be NOT connected to all that blather above (Which is pretty f%$#ing pathetic imo, but I digress).

Let’s see how they do…..

The first possible candidate is General Public Representative Rose D’Acquisto from St. Paul, Minnesota. I say possible because her short bio indicates “She began volunteering for LifeSource, her local OPO, after her husband’s sudden death in 1996”. Whether she still volunteers for them is unclear.

Our second is Michelle Desler. She just happens to be the neice of another long-time and repeated committee and board member, Tom Falsey (who does oodles of work with his local OPO).

And another questionable one: Lisa M. McMurdo, the director of the Division of Quality and Patient Safety in the New York State Department of Health, which puts her in charge of NY state’s donor registry. I’m not sure how that doesn’t make her a ‘non-physician transplant professional’.

And um, that’s it. Seriously. I couldn’t find anyone else on that list who isn’t one of those things listed in Final Rule 2000. Even giving the benefit of the doubt, I only came up with three and not the four or five dictated by law. ?????

Also, according to OPTN’s website, the ‘general public representatives’ on the BOD are to consist of:

– transplant candidates and recipients
– living donors
– donor family members
– recipient & patient family members

They are:

David Burgio, former president/CEO of Berea Hospital, and current board member of KY’s OPO. But he’s a kidney recipient, so I guess that makes it okay.

Mary Carpenter, an advisory board member of Florida’s OPO, and former committee member for the National Kidney Society. But she’s a donor mother, so…..

Susan Lane Conrad. Here’s her bio from the OPTN website:

is the chief executive officer of Iowa Donor Network. She is a living kidney donor. Conrad is currently serving her third term on the OPTN/UNOS board of directors, twice on its executive committee, as treasurer and as transplant coordinator representative. She currently is a member of the OPO performance metrics work group. Conrad previously served on the OPO, finance, living donor and liver and intestinal organ transplantation committees.

In addition to her OPTN/UNOS service, she is immediate past president of the Association of Organ Procurement Organizations and past president of NATCO-the Organization for Transplant Professionals, for which she also has served as treasurer. She is a recent member of the national Advisory Committee on Organ Transplantation. She has served on the editorial boards of Transplant Chronicles and Progress in Transplantation.

Let’s pause for a moment.

This women is on her THIRD term. Is the public supposed to believe that not a single person in all of that time has expressed interest in being on an OPTN committee or its BOD? Especially for public rep, it’s not as if there are broad qualifications one must meet; look at Michele Desler.

And just how in the hell did the CEO of an OPO become a PUBLIC Representative anyway? The fact she is an LKD adheres to the letter of the law, but certainly not the spirit. The idea of a’public representative’ is to bring another voice into the fray, not to perpetuate the voice of the transplant industry which so overwhelms the conversation.

Rose T. D’Acquisto, mentioned above. She’s a donor wife.

Michelle Desler, living kidney donor and niece of Tom Falsey.

Tom Falsey, anonymous kidney donor, director of special promotions for the Donate Life Foundation in Lanexa, KS.

Michelle Hagan, Director of Quality Improvement at Gift of Life Michigan.

Once again, how the HELL does a STAFF MEMBER of an OPO become a PUBLIC REP?? Isn’t ‘public’ supposed to mean someone OUTSIDE that transplant industry??

Sandra Hickey, Director, Family Aftercare at Kentucky Organ Donor Affiliates.

M. Jill McMaster, who among other things, is a public education volunteer with Tennessee Donor Services.

Yes, an OPO.

Lisa McMurdo, I mentioned earlier….

Kenyon Murphy: A two-time liver recipient, he is honorary director of Georgia Transplant Foundation’s (GTF’s) advisory board. He has served as president of GTF’s board of directors and also has been an active volunteer with Lifelink of Georgia.

Mary J. Nachreiner, a community/family services specialist at the University of Wisconsin Hospital organ procurement organization. But hey, she’s a donor mother.

This is the FIFTH so-called public rep who is emeshed in an OPO.

Yes, I realize that Organ Procurement Orgs are supposed to limit themselves to matters of deceased donor donation, but some have stretched the boundaries on this (No, I will not name names). Keep in mind that something as innocuous as a Donate Life Month rally where living donors stand up and speak on the importance of donation and transplantation can give the public the idea that OPOs are advocating living donation. I understand why a number of LDs end up involved with an OPO (They’ve had transplantation touch their lives personally, and there are no living donor-related groups for them to join; plus the system is so lopsided toward the recipient, and a living donor has sacrificed their own health for the benefit of a recipient, so….etc), but at some point, that involvement HAS to eliminate them as a member of the public as defined here. The public is – well – the public: the unwashed masses, the NON-professionals. That’s the freaking point.

And why, you may ask, did I delve into this miasma? Because….

OPTN is seeking new Board nominations!

Get your form here. Ignore all the questions specifically related to those who work in a transplant center, and get thee on the Board. And if you’re not selected, contact the President of OPTN and demand to know why. If that doesn’t work, you might try explaining your situation to the appropriate person at HRSA’s Division of Transplantation (refer to the pdf chart). If you’re really persistent, a friendly media and blogger types who’d love to point out obvious bias on the part of UNOS and OPTN. There are plenty out there.

Good luck; forms are due October 7th.

ETA: I am told that other OPTN committee and/or board members are repeats as well, it’s just not noted on their official OPTN bio. In my vast library of documents (three HUGE tubs of which still need to be scanned into ye olde hard drive), I have meeting agendas, conference presentations, etc. from the early 2000s on. If/when I get the time, I’ll wade through some of it and try to cross-reference names and titles.

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