FACT 1: Patients who know about transplantation are more likely to be listed (and so live longer).
FACT 2: For kidney transplants, the wait times in NY, Boston, SF can be 5+ years while they can be significantly lower in Kansas, Iowa and Toledo, Ohio. For liver transplants, the MELD scores at transplantation vary by geography.
FACT 3: Multiple listing helps transplant success (kidney and liver).
How did we get started? Sridhar Tayur, Founder, is a professor of Operations Management at Carnegie Mellon University, with interests in logistics and supply chain management, and has started to also research healthcare operations. In 1994, he had created algorithms for scheduling time-shared jet aircraft -- a brand new business idea at that time -- that are used in industry today. Later, as CEO and Founder of SmartOps Corporation, the world leader in enterprise inventory optimization software, he became a customer of a fractional jet company. He was invited to give a talk at Northwestern University by Professor Baris Ata in the fall of 2010, and this was the first time they met. Baris' research area is studying organ allocation rules. Over dinner, Baris explained the current state of affairs in the United States with respect to kidney and liver transplants. Most notably, due to a severe shortage in supply, patients had to wait for several months, and sometimes even years (and therefore many would die while waiting). Furthermore, there was significant disparity in the wait times across different regions within the United States. While several policy changes were being discussed and analyzed, sometimes emotionally, it appeared that the status quo would remain for the foreseeable future.
A week later, Sridhar wondered if his experience with private jets could help in reducing the mismatch between supply and demand across regions, and in doing so, also increase the number of organs harvested to increase the total supply. This would decrease the total wait times, improve the overall quality of life of patients, as well as increase the number of lives saved. Why would the overall supply increase? This is because some organs that are considered marginal in some regions (and thus are not harvested) are considered valuable and worth harvesting by physicians in other regions; however, due to incentive misalignment and other issues, these organs are simply wasted. With OrganJet helping patients move from one region to another, in a timely and affordable manner, some organs currently not recovered (in the destination region) could also be harvested.
Speaking with several transplant physicians and patients -- in San Francisco, Boston, Chicago and Pittsburgh -- it appeared that easy (and somewhat affordable) availability of on-demand private jet would help a wide range of patients (and physicians) all over the country. Even those who choose not to multi-list and travel would benefit if others in their regions did. Baris and Sridhar then worked with real data -- and used operations research models and analysis from queuing networks and game theory -- to verify that this could indeed be a useful contribution to our society.
FACT 4: Traveling does not decrease transplant success.
OrganJet was incorporated on May 13, 2011.