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Dear AATB members,

A lot has transpired here at the home office since the last issue of Tissue Times, and I wanted to provide an update on what the AATB has been up to this summer. Below, you will find information about NTRUS, our latest advocacy work in Brussels, and our newest employees — Ashley Milligan, Deanna Puglia, and Dr. Roman Hitchev.

The NTRUS deadline is Monday, Sept. 11.
We recently sent out the National Tissue Recovery through Utilization Survey (NTRUS) to Management with Executive Responsibility (MwERs) to gather updated national tissue data from accredited institutions. The deadline for completing NTRUS is Monday, Sept. 11. NTRUS will help us document all aspects of tissue banking, from recovery to acquisition, and generate estimates of tissue recovery through donation across the U.S. from 2012 and 2015.

Some members have asked: Why is the AATB commissioning NTRUS? At present, we have no means to articulate the size, scope, and positive clinical impact of this tissue banking profession. Documenting the donors we honor and the patients’ lives we touch will help educate the public — including legislators and regulators — about the tissue banking profession and its important contributions to health care.

The AATB will present to stakeholders in Brussels on Sept. 20.
The AATB has formed an ad hoc group to address international issues that are important to tissue banks. This group prepared a targeted action plan responding to the European Commission’s current evaluation of blood, tissue, and cells legislation. The group is also assisting me in developing his formal presentation for the stakeholder event in Brussels on Sept. 20, which will focus on legal consistency and coherence.

For more specific information: The commission, which represents the executive branch of the European Union, is currently evaluating the EU’s blood, tissues, and cells legislation. This is the first formal evaluation of this legislation since the adoption of acts in 2002 (blood) and 2004 (tissues and cells), and its implications can greatly affect processors and recovery partners. The AATB is proud to be the voice of the U.S. tissue banking community in this important legislative conversation.

The AATB team is growing.
The AATB is excited to announce the hiring of three new team members: Ashley Milligan, Deanna Puglia, and Dr. Roman Hitchev.

Ashley Milligan joins the AATB as the new administrative coordinator with extensive experience in event planning, procurement, and various software applications. Ashley holds a bachelor’s degree in project management and graduated with honors. She has served in compounding pharmacology and supplementation roles, as well as advanced commercial and government contract management support, and holds multiple certifications in these fields.

Deanna Puglia is the new communications and program coordinator for the American Association of Tissue Banks. Deanna recently received her master’s in interdisciplinary health communication from the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, where she was a graduate research assistant and Roy H. Park Fellow. During her time at UNC, Deanna also served as an editorial assistant for the Journal of Health Communication: Special Issue on Tobacco Regulatory Science, chaired the communications committee for the 38th Annual Minority Health Conference, and worked as an account services intern at MedThink SciCom in Raleigh, North Carolina. Previously, she served as a health and benefits advocate with the Philadelphia Health Corps. Deanna also holds a bachelor’s degree in biological sciences from the University of Pittsburgh.

Roman Hitchev, M.D., MPH, has joined the American Association of Tissue Banks as vice president, chief science officer, bringing with him more than 20 years of tissue banking and procurement experience. Prior to joining AATB, Dr. Hitchev served as president and chief medical officer for Tissue Bank Osteocentre BG (OCBG), Bulgaria’s first and largest independent tissue bank, for 15 years. Prior to this position, Dr. Hitchev was vice president international of Osteotech Inc. (OSTE, now Medtronic) and president of Osteotech’s European subsidiary. Dr. Hitchev also served as executive director with Lions Eye and Tissue Bank and Research Foundation and organ procurement coordinator with Washington Regional Transplant Consortium.

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