O’HARA TOWNSHIP (KDKA) — Imagine being told your loved one has suddenly died. You want to donate his or her organs, but because organ harvesting is not an emergency, you might have to wait, and wait for an open operating suite.

“Our cases will be delayed in order for the other patients to have their medical procedures carried out in the operating room,” says CORE CEO Susan Stuart. “It may not be convenient for the family who’s trying to make funeral arrangements.”

Also, a recipient might die waiting for those organs, or the donor might become unstable during that waiting time, and the organs can be lost.

For these reasons, the Center for Organ Recovery and Education, or CORE, is opening its own surgical center.

“By having our operating room suites here, there would not be any competition for that operating room time,” says Stuart. “We will work with the critical care transport team, and we will bring the patient into our facility where they’ll go into our intensive care unit.”

This facility in O’Hara Township has an intensive care unit for organ donors on a ventilator.

This kind of medical support helps keep the organs viable. From the ICU, they would then go to one of the operating rooms for organ procurement.

“The transplant surgeons will come here to do the recovery,” says Stuart.

CORE will start with three cases a month.

The cost of harvesting is specific to the organ and the type of evaluation it would need — ranging from $30,000 for a kidney to $46,000 for a heart. The recipient’s insurance typically covers it.

The new facility will accept its first donor in the next few months, and staff members are planning for every obstacle, from donor medical issues during transport to ambulance flat tires and snowstorms.

For now, CORE is planning the center’s grand opening and ribbon cutting.

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Dr. Maria Simbra