À la recherche de moins de temps

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Suburb outside Boston. Cold February morning. Cloudy. Two days after the city had a record one-day snowfall of nearly two feet.

00:00. Man receives call from Mayo Clinic in Rochester (MN) with confirmed availability of a liver for his wife’s transplant. Clock Starts.

00:01. Calls OrganJet.

01:36. [Position Time is usually 2.5 hours, can be as high as 3.5 hours for Air Ambulance, not the 1.5 hours we could execute today. We had a “heads up” about the possible need a couple of days in advance. Value of Information!] Wheels up, on Learjet 45 [range over 2250 miles at Mach 0.8, it was available at a remarkable 30% below predicted market price 😳].

04:11. Lands. [Flight Time 2 hours and 35 minutes. A Light jet may have taken 2 hours and 45 minutes, usually cheaper than the Mid-size jet we selected today, and Turboprop, the cheapest option, would have been 4 hours 40 minutes with a fuel stop, so not really feasible. A Heavy jet is vastly more expensive, less available, and is expected to take the same 2 hours 35 minutes flight time as the Mid-size.] Limo [scheduled along with jet] pickup.

04:46. Reaches Mayo. [Drive Time was 35 minutes.]

Earlier this morning, well before the break of dawn, OrganJet provided a private jet to pick up a liver transplant patient and her husband from Hanscom Field (in Bedford, MA, the private jet airport I have used many times as CEO of SmartOps, while I was living in Weston, as I wrote channeling my inner Mark Twain in Slumming It?) to take them to Mayo Clinic (Rochester, MN).

Her husband – who happens to be a professor ☺️ – had contacted me a few days earlier:

We live in xxx. My wife is listed at the Mayo Clinic (Rochester MN) and MGH (Boston, MA), and requires specialized surgical experience available at those two sites. This would be for a liver transplant. We are inquiring about possibility of transport to Mayo if called there first. Our closest airport is Hanscom Field (BED), with Boston Logan, Worcester, MA, and Hartford CT also potentially reachable.

Amusingly, Peter Ubel’s three-part article in Forbes (June 2015) was titled:

Your new liver is only a Learjet away.

What caught my attention in today’s situation was the unusual twist on their motivation to multiple list: it was not because Mayo has a shorter wait time to get a liver transplant, the usual reason why someone multiple lists (and uses OrganJet). It was expertise. I remember a concert in Boston a few years back, and Adele opened with Hello, and, before getting on to her next song, turned to a set of folks sitting behind me, and profusely thanked them with heartfelt gratitude – they were MGH physicians – for their extraordinary skill in ensuring that her God-given gift of a voice was unaltered by the delicate surgery that was needed.

I have been doing this now for many years. It doesn’t get old. Every time, it gives me the thrill of the first patient (August 2013):

Originally listed in the DC area about 18 months ago, where the median wait time is nearly 5 years — wait times in nearby Maryland are not that much better — the 41-year old wife and mother contacted OrganJet for advice and arranged her on-demand jet transportation options (in addition to available commercial choices) just a few months ago.

The patient received news of an available organ on Saturday and her transplant took place over the weekend: “Thank you so much for hooking me up with Pittsburgh.  You definitely played a crucial role in me getting a kidney!”

“Yes, definitely very satisfied OrganJet client 😊,” she emailed, a couple of days after her transplant.

Enjoying freshly brewed Italian coffee and Chobani (Black Cherry ☺️) Greek yogurt this morning, not tea and madeleine, I first recalled involuntarily Miles Davis, not Marcel Proust:

         Time isn’t the main thing. It is the only thing.

With OrganJet, that is not entirely correct, as there is also a matter of cost or expertise. Putting it in my maximally inverse framing 😏:

         Time isn’t the only thing. It is the main thing.

Repurposing an AmEx ad from a long time ago:

Publishing a paper in Management Science titled OrganJet (and winning Pierskalla Award): Sweet.

Harvard writing a Case (and being a guest speaker at HBS several times): Cool.

Grand Rounds at MGH, UPMC, Stanford, UCSF: Informative.

Featured in Atlantic, Forbes, CBS, NEJM: Nice.

Being an invited speaker at an HKS program for top social entrepreneurs selected from around the world by the WEF: Revealing.

Being invited to The White House: Fun.

Participating in a NASEM Committee to discuss Fair, Equitable and Cost-effective organ transplantation system: Thankful.

Actually getting a person a transplant years earlier (or one they might not have otherwise had at all): Fulfilling.

Les plaisirs et les jours.

What next on the plate today? Looking forward to a call in a couple of hours that was triggered by this email:

Hi Sridhar,

May I introduce you to Lynly Boor, President of stoptheshortage.org.

Lynly is herself a transplant recipient and tireless advocate for ending the donor shortage. I have told her of all your innovative work in transplant with the same objective, including your work with Nudge, OrganJet and more!

Given your shared interests, I thought it might be of mutual interest to be connected!

Hope you are well,


James F. Markmann MD, PhD

Chief, Division of Transplant Surgery, Massachusetts General Hospital

Claude E. Welch Professor of Surgery, Harvard Medical School

I think of myself as an Academic Capitalist, not an:

Academic Philanthropist.

Perhaps I am both, in superposition 😏, and remembering how Marcel closed the last volume of À la recherche du temps perdu:

La Temps retrouvé ?


  1. Like that coda channeling Proust:)

  2. Thanks, Suresh. On the other hand, I expect he would have been really annoyed at the “documentary realism” of my opening, in complete anti-thesis to his position.

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