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.
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.
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.
The organization that oversees the nation’s organ transplant network today released the full content of a proposal that would revamp the liver distribution network in an attempt to make it more equitable.
In releasing the full proposal, after outlining it to reporters last week, the Organ Procurement and Transplantation Network also began a two-month public comment period for the potential policy changes.
The nation's transplant network is taking a long-awaited step to ease a serious disparity: Where you live affects whether you get a timely liver transplant or die waiting.
Desperate patients sometimes travel across the country to get on a shorter waiting list - if they can afford it. On Monday, the United Network for Organ Sharing is proposing a change, redrawing the map that governs how donated livers are distributed so patients wouldn't need to leave home for better odds.
New York resident shares experience of what it's like waiting for an organ in a region where demand far outpaces the supply.
Ten years ago, I was in the midst of a battle with a deadly form of liver disease known as cryptogenic cirrhosis when my doctors decided my only chance of survival was to receive a liver transplant. I was placed on the transplant waiting list and given an estimated wait time of two years, even though my cirrhosis meant that I might be dead in only one. The prospect of fighting such a debilitating disease with my failing liver was daunting – and to be honest, I didn’t have much hope I could make it.
Until I got the best news of my life: I was diagnosed with liver cancer.