Tethered to a breathing machine at a Manhattan hospital, 21-year-old Miriam Holman would die without a lung transplant. But her odds of finding a suitable organ were especially low in New York, where waiting times are among the longest in the country.
Wait times can vary dramatically across the country. There are 350 people on the list at Mount Sinai, and fewer than a quarter are likely to receive a liver transplant this year, according to the Scientific Registry of Transplant Recipients.
UNOS, the private, not-for-profit in charge of the organ transplant system, divides the country into 11 regions, essentially demarcating borders within which organs move from donor to recipient. The system was abruptly changed as a result of the first legal challenge to these borders in years, which came Nov. 19
The highly charged conversation around liver distribution–namely, whether where you live should determine whether you get a transplant–is heating up as the committee delegated with policy decisions on the issue meets this week to vote on a new proposal that patient advocates worry would keep sick people locked in an unfair system.