TALEND WEBINAR : March 27th, 2018 | Step-by-Step to Enterprise Data Integration

Talend Data Masters 2016 – UNOS: How many lives can you save?

Talend Data Masters 2016 – UNOS: How many lives can you save?

  • Martine Vesco
    Martine Vesco joined Talend in 2016 as a Senior Customer Marketing Manager. In this role, Martine develops and maintains a trusted advisor relationship with key customer contacts and creates Customer Reference programs as well as communities. Prior to Talend, Martine held a number of senior positions in customer marketing at leading software companies such as Dassault Systèmes, Business Objects and Workday.
  • December 14, 2016


Did you know that a single organ donor can save up to 8 lives? The United Network for Organ Sharing (UNOS) is a private, non-profit organization that manages the United States’ national organ transplant system under contract with the federal government. On average, 85 people receive transplants every day, but another 22 people die each day while waiting for an organ transplant due to the lack of donors.

Each organ has a short shelf life

Today, there are nearly 120,000 people on the organ waiting list. There were only 9,000 deceased donors last year, so optimizing the use of organs is essential – and a challenge. When a transplant hospital accepts a transplant candidate and an organ procurement organization gets consent from an organ donor, both enter medical data into UNOS’ computerized network. Using the combination of candidate and donor information, the UNOS system generates a “match run,” or a rank-order list of candidates for each organ. There is a tremendous sense of urgency as a doctor has just one hour to decide whether or not to accept an organ for their patient on the list. Organs have a limited time frame in which they must be transplanted.  A heart, for example, must be transplanted within four hours but kidneys can tolerate 24 to 36 hours outside the body.

Looking back to drive future decisions

UNOS wanted to facilitate making more information available via a self-service model. A first offering in this model was an Organ Offer Report where Transplant centers accessing it can now see what they’ve transplanted over the last three months. They can also see the outcome of the organs they did not accept so they can analyze why they turned them down, how they were successfully used by other centers, and whether they should consider accepting them in the future. It is critical for surgeons to look back at decisions they made about accepting or rejecting organs to determine if their future decisions should be altered. Data helps make better decisions, and better decisions mean more saved lives.

600% reduction in the amount of time needed to generate the organ offer report 

UNOS uses Talend Big Data to extract and organize data used to generate the Organ Offer Report provided to transplant centers. Transplant professionals can now see more information than ever before to help with quality improvement efforts. Using Talend enabled UNOS to automate the process of integrating systems and processing data as well as reduce the time required for this essential task from 18 hours down to three or four hours.

UNOS’ databases currently contain approximately three terabytes of data. UNOS is using Talend to integrate both structured data from Microsoft and Oracle databases with JSON data from the Web. UNOS is using Talend’s ability to generate Spark code to accelerate integration jobs, with Talend data pipelines feeding three separate Hadoop clusters. Talend outputs the results to a source system where Tableau data visualization software can read them. Tableau then serves up the Organ Offer Report, which gives transplant centers a list of recent transplant activity at their hospital.

Almost 31,000 transplants were performed last year in the United States.  For this reason, Talend named UNOS a grand prize winner of the 2016 Talend Data Masters Awards.

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