His belly swollen, his energy flagging, 45-year-old Jorge Perez Remache waits in his Queens apartment for word that his turn has come to receive a lifesaving liver transplant. Though he has suffered from cirrhosis for 10 years, the chance of that happening is virtually zero.
A proposal to revamp the country's organ transplant system could help distribute livers equitably to candidates in dire need. The initiative by the United Network for Organ Sharing would not redraw existing donor sharing districts, as previously proposed.
The Organ Procurement and Transplant Network's Liver and Intestine Committee reviewed proposals this month to reduce the number of transplant regions for broader organ sharing, and the committee members added additional policies -- dubbed the “neighborhood” and “concentric circle” distribution scenarios -- to the list of those they are considering. At least one of the proposals will likely be posted online for written comments in late summer, according to Thorn Run Partners Managing Partner Billy Wynne.
Organ Transplant Stakeholders Applaud OPTN Progress on Lifesaving Reforms to Liver Distribution for Transplant
At yesterday’s public meeting of the HHS-designated Organ Procurement and Transplantation Network (OPTN) Liver and Intestine Committee, board members and key stakeholders considered a variety of reforms that would reduce severe geographic disparities in organ distribution.
When Steve Jobs needed a liver transplant in 2009, he went to Tennessee, where the wait time for a donated organ is significantly shorter than in states like California, Massachusetts, Texas, and New York.
He didn't break any rules; he just took advantage of an antiquated system that distributes organs along arbitrary regional lines that were developed more than 30 years ago.
As a result, where patients live has a disproportionate effect on their opportunity to receive an organ, and consequently, on their risk of dying while on the waiting list.
The harsh reality is that, wherever you live, there aren't enough organs to accommodate those in need. Nationally, about 8% of patients die while waiting for a liver; in New York, that rate is nearly double.
In 2009, Steve Jobs received a liver transplant—not in northern California where he lived, but across the country in Memphis, Tennessee. Given the general complications of both travel and a transplant, Jobs’ decision may seem like an odd choice. But it was a strategic move that almost certainly got him a liver much more quickly than if Jobs had just waited for a liver to become available in California. Eight years later, the Apple founder’s procedure continues to highlight the state of transplants in the US: when it comes to organs, we have a big math problem.
Organ Donors Save More Lives Than Ever With 1,463 Transplants From a Record 481 Organ Donors in 2016
For Immediate Release
Contact: Tania Llavaneras, 213-503-9285, email@example.com
(LOS ANGELES – January 4, 2017) — OneLegacy, the nonprofit organ procurement organization dedicated to saving lives through organ, eye and tissue donation in the greater Los Angeles area, announced today a new national record of organs recovered and transplanted in 2016.
According to Chief Executive Officer Thomas Mone, the year just concluded saw a 9.2 percent increase in transplants over 2015 to a national record of 1,463 recovered from a OneLegacy all-time high of 481 organ donors (a 4.6 percent increase). The year also saw OneLegacy set a national record of 2,732 tissue donors and 1,535 cornea donors, increases over 2015 of 6.1 percent and 4.9 percent, respectively.
Organ Transplant Stakeholders Pan OPTN for Continued Delays in Lifesaving Reforms to Liver Transplant Waiting List
As announced at today’s meeting of the HHS Advisory Committee on Organ Transplantation, the Organ Procurement and Transplantation Network (OPTN)/United Network for Organ Sharing (UNOS) will fail to meet a self-imposed deadline (June 1, 2017) to adopt reforms to the liver distribution system that would reduce waiting times and save lives.
For Immediate Release
Contact: Harriet Melvin, (202) 550-2656, firstname.lastname@example.org
Today, the Coalition for Organ Distribution Equity (CODE) expressed disappointment that OPTN/UNOS will fail to meet a self-imposed deadline of June 1, 2017 to vote on a scientifically-driven proposal that would improve the current system for liver distribution. At today’s meeting of the HHS Advisory Committee on Organ Transplantation, Dr. Melissa Greenwald, Director of the HRSA Division of Transplantation, confirmed that they are setting a new goal to present a final proposal to the OPTN Board in December 2017.
The United Network for Organ Sharing is proposing changes around the geographic regions for liver transplants to better match organ supply with demand and make access more equitable.