White House puts $200M toward shortening organ waiting list

On Monday, the Obama administration announced that the federal government and dozens of foundations, companies, universities, hospitals and patient advocacy organizations will employ initiatives to shorten the organ waiting list.

Currently there are more than 120,000 people on the U.S. waiting list for an organ. Every 10 minutes, someone new is tallied on to that list. Today, approximately 22 people will die waiting for a life-saving transplant.

The announced actions will devote nearly $200 million in investments toward breakthrough research and development geared toward improving the organ transplant process. The Department of Defense will allocate more than $160 million in both public and private investments to a new Advanced Tissue Biofabrication Manufacturing Innovation Institute to promote the development of manufacturing techniques that could one day replace cells and tissues. The DOD will also award $7 million to small businesses working to advance the scientific technology of organ preservation.

The American Society of Nephrology will provide $7 million to the collaborative initiative to facilitate research into kidney disease and the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation will provide $15 million for initiatives committed to improving outcomes post-lung transplant. The Laura and John Arnold Foundation has announced a $4.2 million grant to maximize the quantity and quality of life-saving organs made available by each donor.

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As well as critical funding, the new initiatives will include efforts to make becoming an organ donor easier. While 95 percent of Americans support organ donation, only 50 percent are registered donors. The donor registration system has been almost exclusively reliant on states' Departments of Motor Vehicles since its inception in 1968. New technologies can provide new avenues for registration expansion. More than 12 organizations — including social media juggernauts Facebook and Twitter — are committed to developing new tools to increase registration with the goal of facilitating one million new registrations by autumn 2016.

Learn more about the organizations involved here.

On May 19, at a ceremony honoring recipients of national recognitions for achievements in science and technology, President Barack Obama said, "America's progress in science and technology has countless revolutionary discoveries within our reach...new breakthroughs in treating cancer and ending the wait for organ transplants...that's some of what America can do."

Watch the White House Organ Summit here.

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