Mason Trust awards grant to support the Transplant Referral Exchange program at Wellstar MCG Health

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Written by Lisa Kaylor

In its third decade of supporting the Medical College of Georgia at Augusta University and its associated academic health center, the Carlos and Marguerite Mason Trust recently awarded a grant to support the Transplant Referral Exchange (T-Rex) program at Wellstar MCG Health’s Carlos and Marguerite Mason Solid Organ Transplant Center.

Unlike its name might suggest, T-Rex is no dinosaur, but a very modern digital platform for accelerating kidney transplant care for patients who need it most.

According to Dr. Laura Mulloy, a transplant nephrologist at Wellstar MCG Health, “T-Rex has improved ease and efficiency in the way dialysis centers refer their patients for transplantation. The platform allows electronic submission of referrals with medical records and bidirectional communication between the transplant center and dialysis center, reducing administrative burden and facilitating faster, complete, and accurate referral information and expedited scheduling for patients.”

Quicker, comprehensive referrals could mean patients will be matched faster for transplant to receive advanced care in Augusta at Georgia’s only kidney transplant center outside of Atlanta. The Carlos and Marguerite Mason Solid Organ Transplant Center at Wellstar MCG Health in Augusta has been recognized for providing excellent kidney transplant care to patients – especially those who have acute kidney issues – for decades. On average, about 82 lifesaving transplant surgeries are performed each year at Wellstar MCG Health, according to Christina Wiggins, administrator of Transplant Services.

Dialysis facilities throughout the southeast use T-Rex to refer patients to various transplant centers for kidney transplant. T-Rex facilitates timely communication and status updates between transplant centers and dialysis facilities throughout the continuum of care.

This vital program was developed in the early 2010s to support the goals and objectives of the Southeast Kidney Transplant Coalition with an aim to reduce racial disparities in transplantation. By utilizing T-Rex, a dialysis facility can refer the same patient to multiple transplant centers, increasing the chances of finding a match and ensuring a timelier patient care response. And timeliness is critical for patients on the waitlist for a kidney transplant.

As startup funding decreased, this vital referral program was at risk unless additional resources could be secured. Returning to outdated communication methods (fax, postal service) would likely decrease the number of referrals received and delay the process, which could be detrimental to the health of countless citizens, particularly those who are low income or underserved.

The Mason Trust was established by the estate of Marguerite Fugazzi Mason in memory of her husband Carlos Mason to help ensure access to care for all Georgians in need of kidney transplant. To date, the Mason Trust has contributed over $16 million to the Medical College of Georgia and Wellstar MCG Health to enhance transplant research, education and patient care.

Notably, their contributions include a $1.45 million gift to name and help fund the construction of the $4.1 million Carlos and Marguerite Mason Solid Organ Transplant Center, which opened in 2017.