NJ Company OrganFlights Plays a Key Role in Transplant Process

Founded by a Lakewood paramedic, the service helps get hearts and lungs where they need to go—"in a hurry."

Lakewood resident and paramedic Sim Shain, founder of OrganFlights.
Sim Shain (far left), founder of OrganFlights, is seen with medical professionals. Courtesy of OrganFlights

The coronavirus put extra pressure on almost every segment of the medical community. In the organ-transplant industry, organ demand was up and supply decreased. Many transplant centers shut down, and patients had to be removed from organ waiting lists.

As the business slowed, Sim Shain knew it was time to rev up. Shain, a Lakewood resident and trained paramedic, is founder and CEO of OrganFlights and its subsidiary, ParaFlight EMS, which handles air and ground transport for donated organs, medical teams and ancillary supplies nationwide. Both are for-profit companies, but 25 percent of their flights are offered at or below cost, according to Shain.

The key to transporting donated organs is to “get them there in a hurry,” says Shain. “The time frame an organ remains viable outside the human body is the biggest factor for us. Lungs can last between four and six hours; hearts, two to four; livers, eight to 10, and kidneys, 18 to 20 hours.”

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Before starting his transport services, Shain, now 48 and the father of six, was a volunteer EMT for Hatzolah, an emergency-rescue organization his father helped start in Lakewood.

One of OrganFlights’ regular stops is Newark Beth Israel Medical Center, the only lung-transplant center in New Jersey and one of the busiest heart-transplant centers in the nation, with more than 1,100 such procedures performed.

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