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Making the impossible possible – a historic heart transplant mission

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Trinity’s promise to OPOs and transplant centers is that we will always say “yes” to a requested lifesaving mission. This dedication to tackling logistics challenges head-on means that, together with our partners, we often push the boundaries of what’s thought possible.

That’s exactly what happened in April 2023 when a call came in requesting help transporting transplant team members from Boston to Juneau, Alaska, and back for a donor heart. While the request set a standard operating process in motion, the team knew there was nothing routine about the hours and miles involved in this heart transplant mission.

For those of us at Trinity, “saying “no” was the part we deemed impossible. Team members jumped into action by analyzing the air transportation logistics necessary to give the mission the best chance at success.

We decided to utilize one crew and aircraft, specifically selected to ensure there were no concerns with range and flight time. Strategic planning ensured the care team reached Juneau with ample time for the pilots to observe their FAA-mandated rest period upon landing and then prepare to depart for Boston as the organ recovery team was in the operating room. This approach also had significant cost savings for the accepting transplant center.

Ultimately, the donor heart’s journey, a total of 2,506 nautical miles from Juneau to Boston, set a record for the longest distance a heart has traveled for transplant surgery, according to our industry partner that created the preservation device in which the heart was transported.

“We are honored to have worked alongside our innovative client and industry partner to ensure this lifesaving heart traveled over 2,500 miles in a safe and timely manner,” said Scott Wunsch, chief operating officer at Trinity.

The successful mission serves as proof of the importance of proactivity and real-time collaboration. At Trinity, we ensure our skilled operations center staff and logistics coordinators have the most appropriate resources and assets at their fingertips to utilize for each mission’s unique requirements and feel confident in the training they receive to best serve our partners.

“While this mission was historic, we’re most proud that our team did exactly what they train to do every day – help our partners obtain the right aircraft for the right mission every time to save more lives,” added Wunsch.

Through our specialized dispatch center, we provide a one-call solution to maximize mission time, every time. This singular focus on efficiency helps reduce costs, increase organ viability and empower care teams to push geographic boundaries as they work to save more lives through donation and transplantation.