Over the years, orthopedic surgeon Dennis Crawford, M.D., Ph.D., of Oregon Health & Science University found it difficult to obtain tissue for transplant to treat some of his patients suffering with severe joint disorders.
"I found this unfortunate and ironic," explained Crawford, assistant professor of orthopedics and rehabilitation in the OHSU School of Medicine, and a specialist in sports medicine. "Oregonians, it turns out, are among the most beneficent with respect to providing their bodies to organ donation programs in the entire country."
Until recently, however, it was difficult to access some of these tissues for transplantation. Now, as a result of a new cooperative conceived by OHSU surgeons and administrators, Oregonians will increasingly benefit from those in our community who donate their tissue for transplantation.
Recently, as a result of these unique efforts, the national leader in fresh allograft cartilage preparation, AlloSource of Centennial, Colo., has partnered with Community Tissue Services (CTS) of Dayton, Ohio, to create the Joint Restoration Foundation (JRF), allowing Portland to become one of 16 areas across the country to receive priority allocation of fresh cartilage allografts for transplantation.
"Live or fresh tissue transplants are difficult to obtain and complicated to prepare and coordinate. This new cooperation will allow many more of our patients, suffering with complex joint injury, to be treated in a timely and effective manner," Crawford said.
Crawford who performs several cartilage restoration procedures each week has already seen the benefit for his patients. The opportunity to correct disability and restore joint function offers the patients the chance to return to a healthy, pain-free and productive life.
Crawford said the collaboration between CTS, JRF and OHSU "has been exciting and I am delighted I could be an integral part of bringing this partnership to fruition. The result very well could be a lifetime of painlessness for many patients who otherwise would be suffering from often-debilitating pain and arthritis."
Pete Jenkins, JRF executive director, believes OHSU's involvement in advancing the technology is only the beginning. "Teaming with surgeons in our donor communities around the country to provide this special gift of donation that enhances the life of the recipient is central to the JRF mission. We are pleased to partner with CTS in Portland and others areas to benefit these communities," he said.
JRF prepares and coordinates fresh osteochondral allografts that can be used in a variety of joints to treat a variety of conditions. Allocation of these tissues is performed on a priority basis back to the communities that the donors came from. The fresh cartilage allografts are extensively tested to assure bacteria and viral free grafts are provided to surgeons specializing in cartilage restoration surgery. Tissues can be maintained for up to 28 days in a medium that keeps the cells viable and the tissue healthy so it continues to live after transplantation.
Cooperation between Community Tissue Services, which has been serving Portland and the greater Oregon community for decades, and the tissue preparation and coordination resources of the Joint Restoration Foundation has already proven valuable. Several OHSU patients have recently benefited directly from the increased availability of fresh tissue for transplantation performed for complex joint cartilage restoration procedures.
Patients diagnosed with osteochondral injury, or cartilage injury can ask their physicians about the use of allografts or other techniques now available for cartilage restoration. OHSU physicians are involved in several trials to assess the efficacy of these treatments and continue to pioneer cartilage surgery treatments.