'I'm Alive Today Thanks to Business Aviation'
An audio interview with UNOS spokeswoman Anne Paschke and three-time organ recipient Scott March.
United Network for Organ Sharing
Scott March is a 42-year-old who owns DNA Executives Jets in Orlando, Florida. His job is placing people in business airplanes to develop new marketplace leads or see customers. Almost invariably, they thank him for helping them beat their competition. But not until December 4, 2009 did he fully appreciate that business aviation airplanes do much more than provide employee transportation.
That was the day one business jet brought March a lifesaving new liver, his third organ transplant in six years. His previous two livers had failed due to a rare disease known as primary sclerosing cholangitis.
"People usually think of small jets as business tools, and they are," said March. "I see that every day. But business airplanes do much more, including transporting life-saving organs and tissues across the country on a moment's notice. In fact, I probably wouldn't be here right now if not for them."
"It's quite often you'll see business airplanes and helicopters transporting organs, because organs have a very limited time they can survive outside the body," said Anne Paschke, spokeswoman for the United Network for Organ Sharing (UNOS), the national group coordinating organ and tissue transplants. "For instance, hearts are four to six hours, lungs are two to four hours."
Paschke said that one organ donor can contribute as many as 50 different organs or tissues at the time of death, saving or improving the lives of that many people. Many states have online donor registries, she added, which are available through a pop-up on the www.donatelife.org web site.
Some organs or tissues have a long enough life that they can be sent to recipients by scheduled airlines, but other organs - primarily thoracic organs - can't wait. "There's no way you can make the critical living organs wait on an airline's schedule, even assuming the airline was going to where the organ was needed," said Michael Lukowski, director of flight operations for University Air Center in Gainesville, Florida. UAC, whose pilots knew March from his charter-flight assignments, helped him reach the hospital on time on previous occasions.