Donation Essentials Blog

Staff Spotlight: Lauren Abernathy


Lauren and her husband, Brett, during a trip to South Africa in 2019.

We’re so proud to work with each and every one of our staff members here at Donor Alliance. In our Staff Spotlight, we like to take a minute to share who we are and why we work at Donor Alliance. In this month’s staff spotlight, meet Lauren Abernathy, the Organ Procurement and Transplantation Network (OPTN) Compliance Coordinator. In this role, Lauren provides data on each organ donor case to the OPTN.

This Month’s Staff Spotlight is on Lauren Abernathy:

Name: Lauren Abernathy

Position: OPTN Compliance Coordinator

Years at Donor Alliance: 20 years

Tell us a little about your role with Donor Alliance: My role is in Quality Systems. My role provides regulatory compliance with the OPTN. I provide data on each organ donor case to the OPTN (UNOS) following their guidelines for data submission and deadlines. I track all cultures performed on every organ donor case and follow those until they have finalized. I report any positive cultures to the appropriate transplant centers. Over the past two years, I served as the Donor Alliance research coordinator for a national study looking at the use of mild hypothermia during donor management.

What made you want to work for Donor Alliance? I have a background in nursing and was exposed to the world of donation when I worked in the surgical/trauma ICU at Parkland Hospital in Dallas, TX. I cared for numerous potential organ donors. I started in the OPO world at Southwest Organ Bank as an organ recovery coordinator, but also worked in hospital development and management. My husband and I moved to Denver in 1990. I was hired by Colorado Organ Recovery Systems at that time. I took some time off to raise a family, but found I wanted to re-connect with my career. I returned to Donor Alliance part-time helping the finance department with hospital billing audits as well as learning the tissue side of recovery as a QA coordinator. In all of my roles, I have felt connected to the mission of saving lives through organ and tissue donation. That is what called me back and that is what keeps me motivated.

What do you enjoy most about your role/what’s the most rewarding aspect of your role? I love the critical thinking involved in completing reports for UNOS. I enjoy learning about policy and how that process works for change. I feel connected to our transplant centers through the relationships I’ve developed. Through the culture-reporting process I hope I am providing valuable information that contributes to better recipient outcomes.

When you’re not working, what do you like to do for fun? I love spending time with my family and friends. I love to read, needlepoint, and especially travel.

What piece of advice would you give your younger self? I think I would tell my younger self: “Relax – You’re going to have a great life!”

Thanks for reading our staff spotlight!

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