New Jersey Hospital Adds 'Fifth Protocol' to Ensure Organ Donation Safety Move is Response to North Carolina Organ Mismatch

NEW BRUNSWICK, N.J. -- The heart transplant team at Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital in New Brunswick has added a new step in a safety checklist to guard against the possible organ mismatch that occurred in North Carolina.

The change adds a fifth protocol to what had been a four-step safety check system to ensure that donor organs are compatible to their recipients.

Under the fifth protocol, two nurses will check on an organ's compatibility when it arrives to the operating room, according to Dr. Ronald Freudenberger, director of heart failure and transplant cardiology at RWJUH.

Previously, ensuring compatibility had been a four-step process, Freudenberger said. The first check is made by the local organ procurement organization, which in New Jersey is The Sharing Network. The second compatibility check is made by reviewing a national database of donor organs maintained by the United Network for Organ Sharing, or UNOS. The third check is made by a nurse coordinator at the hospital, who is on call 24 hours a day. The fourth check is made by the surgical team.

Source: Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital