In 2021, there were over 41,000 organ transplants in the United States. Those who have experienced the process, who know someone who is waiting, or are waiting themselves, know that the wait and the urgency can be heartbreaking. After losing a patient he had grown to know, who was listed on the Lung Transplant list, but passed away before a match, Sim Shain realized that he could use his knowledge as a paramedic and connections in the industry to help simplify the organ transplant system. He started his company, ParaFlight, and has been saving lives ever since.
“And that became my mission, that became my drive. So there’s really not much else that I want to do because I just want to be able to save lives.”
The organ transplant process is not simply signing up and receiving your organ a few days later. The recipients usually wait years (3-5+ years according to The National Kidney Foundation) before they might be notified for a match. When a match finally becomes available, the organ is on a short clock to get to its new owner before it is unusable. The ticking clock on the organ is where ParaFlight and its team of medical professionals come to play.
What is ParaFlight?
“ParaFlight is a full-service concierge corporate and medical charter company dedicated to providing dependable, compassionate and customized care and service to corporate executives, patients and medical teams worldwide. Founded by emergency medical professionals, we understand the sensitive, critical needs of medical teams, patients and their families.”
ParaFlight is a corporate aviation and medical transport company that orchestrates each of the finicky details surrounding organ transplant. Using their custom app, OrganFlights.com, Sim Shain and his team will receive a notification of an organ procurement that requires a surgical team, which are generally hearts, lungs and livers. At times an organ, such as a liver, kidney or pancreas is sent in a cooler and doesn’t require a surgical team. ParaFlight will ensure that the organ and its surgeons have a ride from the hospital to an airport, where a jet or helicopter will await. After landing, ParaFlight ensures that the organ arrives to the transplant center from the airport, where the expectant patient is waiting for their new lease on life. With each step of the process, ParaFlight notifies the organ recipient team so that they can finally relax, knowing that their soon to be organ is in good hands.
Whether this sounds simple or complicated already, there are a tremendous number of moving pieces to work with. And everything must move fast. Depending on the organ, the medical professionals have 4-24 hours to implement the transit plan before the organ is unusable. However, ParaFlight is extremely proficient in the ground and air transport of the Transmedics and Paragonix transplant systems which include the latest technology in organ preservation and grant ParaFlight teams extended time from procurement to transplant.
In addition to finding and providing transit for the organ for each leg of the journey, ParaFlight also ensures the pilot, crew, and medical professionals it provides are fed and accomodated in the best way that conditions will allow. “We’ll make sure to have fresh catered meals for them on board and really comfortable SUVs, comfortable planes, good food.” Sim Shain takes care of the organs and his people so that he can save as many lives as possible. Sim Shain notes that he respects the organ transplant teams more than the ordinary heroes we hear about. “We fly REAL celebrities. Because we fly organ transplant teams. We fly surgeons and teams who go save lives.”
While they have excelled in organ transplant transit, ParaFlight helps patients more directly as well. Individuals who require extra medical care can contact ParaFlight before they travel to acquire more peace of mind. ParaFlight can provide patients who are on the transplant list with paramedic and nurse companions in the air so that the patients feel safe and cared for in case of emergencies.
So..what makes them different?
Although ParaFlight is a growing business, their first mission isn’t for profit, but to help people. The ParaFlight motto is ”One Team, One Mission: Saving Lives,” and they make sure to live up to the expectations. Sim notes that one of the sticking points of his work is finding aircraft when an organ becomes available. Many times, these trips take place on weekends and in the middle of the night. He appreciates all the medical professionals, pilots, and crew who step in eagerly to do the job, however, aircrafts don’t grow on trees, and are often at the mercy of schedules, airports, and weather conditions.
Sim Shain noted that in an ideal world, a plane would always be available the moment an organ was, however, that is not always the case. He says he has no doubt that some available organs are “left on the table”, simply because they could not get a flight to where they needed to be. In the future, Sim hopes that ParaFlight could partner up with major aircraft operators so that they could have a fleet of planes ready to help. Such a team could be formidable in transforming the medical transport industry.
Sim even notes that they work with competitor companies to ensure the job gets done. To him, it is not about the profit, but about the people. He explained that in building his company he wanted “to do whatever [he could] to make sure that anybody who needs a lung or a vital organ to live is going to get one.” With this much experience in the business, and even before from his days as a paramedic at the 9/11 site of the twin towers, Sim has seen the impact he can have by helping someone in need, and the positive ripple effect it can have on society. “And that’s why we work with everybody. We work with our competitors, we work with anyone, even those who aren’t our clients, but are in a bind and need assistance procuring an aircraft.”
Upward and Onward
With the success of ParaFlight and Organflights.com, people in the medical industry and business world alike are starting to take notice. Sim recently was informed that ParaFlight earned the rank of 1338 on the 2022 Inc. 5000 list of the fastest growing private companies in America. ParaFlight’s mission to save lives is gaining traction and making a difference. By orchestrating the hundreds of details required for organ transplant, Sim Shain is changing the world, one flight, one organ, one mission, and one life at a time.
For more information about ParaFlight and Sim Shain’s life changing work, visit ParaFlight today.