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30 Years: LifeNet Health

Updated: December 21, 2012 - 2:58 pm

Posted: December 21, 2012

LifeNet Health is a far different company than the one it began as 30 years ago.

Known in its early days as the Eastern Virginia Tissue Bank, the company offered organ solutions to doctors and surgeons only in the Hampton Roads area.

It soon became clear that the larger region needed such services, officials said, and now the Virginia Beach-based company processes organs, tissue and cells for clients across the globe.

"We tell people we are the world's most-trusted provider of transplant solutions," said Executive Vice President Douglas Wilson.

The company, which is located in the Princess Anne area, was founded by Bill Anderson, a tissue banking pioneer.

It has about 650 employees worldwide and has sites in Florida and Washington state.

As the commonwealth's only federally recognized organ procurement center, LifeNet Health provides products used for skin transplants, musculoskeletal disease treatments and more.

It has a presence in all 50 states, Wilson said, as well as international clients.

"Our current CEO, Ronny Thomas, had a special mission to help folks outside of the U.S. with the technology that they needed."

The company's early challenges are essentially some of the same issues it faces today: donations.

"If everybody who could be a donor was a donor, we would not have a waiting list," Wilson said. "And currently, about 18 people die every day waiting for an organ transplant."

Despite the challenges, the company is growing.

Earlier this year, it acquired Seattle-based Northwest Tissue Services, giving it a West Coast processing center.

In 2007, it acquired Florida Tissue Services for the same purpose.

In 2013, Wilson said, LifeNet has ambitions to advance its skin franchise and roll out new treatments for women who are post-mastectomy.

One of the company's main goals, he said, is to advance cost-efficiency in the health care realm.

"We are looking for ways to support hospitals and their need to reduce costs and support patients who undergo surgery to get out of the hospital quicker," Wilson said.nib

- Jared Council