The American Society of Transplantation (AST) has launched a new fundraising initiative called Power2Save to address the critical need for funding transplant research and to increase public awareness for organ donation. Approximately 50 percent of all transplanted organs will experience failure within five to ten years, typically due to organ rejection or complications from immunosuppressive drugs.
Organ transplants save patient lives by replacing critical body parts that are failing. However, these life-saving organs do not last indefinitely and Power2Save is working to find a solution to this life-threatening problem. This includes raising funds to help eliminate the problem of organ rejection which results in death for some patients and forces many other organ recipients to face risk of a second transplant procedure. Secondly, is to remove the need for long-term use of immunosuppressive drugs. These medicines put organ recipients at risk for cancers, infections, and other complications due to the toxicity of these drugs. Collectively, this impacts over 250,000 Americans and this figure increases daily with every new organ transplant.
The AST’s Transplantation and Immunology Research Network (TIRN) is overseen by Dr. Jonathan Maltzman, a renowned transplantation expert and physician-scientist at Stanford University and includes medical researchers and scientists from around the US. Funds raised from this initiative will further enhance current research and offer grants to other researchers and scientists that align with the program’s mission.
“There is simply not enough funding available to identify opportunities that are needed now to advance the science and practice of transplantation,” said Dr. Maltzman. “Unfortunately, receiving a transplant is not the end of the story. The hundreds of thousands of people living with a transplant have a life-long obligation of taking toxic medicine daily to avoid organ rejection. One million dollars will allow AST/TIRN to further conduct comprehensive, short-term studies to improve the quality of life for recipients such as identifying new potential therapies and less toxic medications. Long-term, AST/TIRN has a goal of raising $20 million dollars to support research aimed to improve transplant outcomes.”
To generate awareness about the need for research, we are using the power of storytelling by asking patients, care givers, organ donors and beyond to film a short gratitude video at www.tribute.co/power2save. AST is partnering with Organize, a nonprofit group that aims to reduce organ donor shortage and to help build this video platform. Organize developed the country’s first-ever central donor registry, was awarded the Innovator in Residence position in the Office of the Secretary of Health and Human Services, and partnered with the Obama White House to host the 2016 White House Organ Donation Summit.
“While there is likely to be a constant organ shortage, eliminating the need to re-transplant organs will save many lives,” said AST president, Dr. Ronald Gill. “Together with researchers and scientists committed to this effort along with public support, we can make a transplanted organ last for a lifetime and decrease the demand for organs.”
As part of the Power2Save initiative, on October 23-24, AST is bringing over 100 patients from around the country to attend the Transplant Patient Summit in Washington, DC. The aim is to draw national attention to recipient and living donor issues and empower attendees to advocate for the field of transplantation from both a legislative and fundraising capacity.