National Coalition for Transplant Equity (NCTE) Launches, Calls for Improved Access to Organs for Transplants

Current geographic disparities in access lead to longer wait times and avoidable deaths.

May 20, 2015
 
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: Billy Wynne, (202) 309-0796, billy@wynnehealth.com

Today, the National Coalition for Transplant Equity (NCTE) launched, with the mission of reducing geographic disparities in wait times for donated organs and the severity of patients’ illnesses at the time of transplant. These disparities are responsible for over one hundred avoidable deaths every year.

NCTE strongly supports efforts by the Organ Procurement and Transplant Network (OPTN), under the authority of the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA), to reform the methodology by which organs are distributed for transplant in the U.S. Last summer, the OPTN-designated United Network for Organ Sharing (UNOS) Liver and Intestinal Organ Transplantation Committee issued a concept paper that outlined new organ distribution models. NCTE is calling for a data-driven approach to determining a new methodology that will reduce geographic disparities and save lives.

“I was so fortunate to have been given a second chance at life having received the gift of a liver transplant,” stated Shari Kurzrok Schnall, a 10-year transplant recipient. “I don't believe geography should play a role in life and death.”

"While our region's donation rate is among the highest in the country, patients in our region can wait years longer and are far more likely to die while waiting than other areas,” said Tom Mone, CEO of OneLegacy, an organ procurement organization in the Los Angeles area. “The CODE effort is helping to ensure that our donation and transplant community can save more lives throughout the country.”

“We believe that no person should be allowed to die due to an accident of location,” added Dr. Lewis Teperman, the Chief of Transplant Surgery at NYU Langone Medical Center. “NCTE is looking to make the system equal for all recipients waiting for organs.  We hope that more lives will be saved and that geographic disparity will become a thing of the past.”

The demand for transplantable organs in the United States has long outpaced the supply. Right now, more than 16,000 Americans are waiting for liver transplants. 

Making matters worse, the nation’s organ allocation system creates geographic disparities in access to organs: people living in some parts of the country wait far longer and are sicker when they receive organs than those in other parts of the country. Consequently, hundreds of Americans needlessly die every year waiting for organs. By decreasing the number of regions used to determine organ allocation, discrepancies in wait times can be reduced and lives can be saved.

The UNOS Liver Committee is convening on June 22 in Chicago to discuss its progress and welcome public comment. NCTE members will participate in the meeting and report on recommendations and actions coming out of it. 

About CODE

TheNational Coalition for Transplant Equity (NCTE) is a collection of stakeholders committed to improving patient access to organs for transplant. Consistent with the models examined by the United Network for Organ Sharing (UNOS) in its concept paper titled Redesigning Liver Distribution to Reduce Variation in Access to Liver Transplantation, NCTE advances policies that reduce geographic disparities in wait times, patient acuity at the time of transplant, and organ failure-related deaths. Inherent in this endeavor is the need to increase public and policymaker awareness regarding the current process governing organ distribution, its flaws, and how reforms can improve patient outcomes nationwide.