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Organ Donor

ALF Supports Proposal by OPTN/UNOS to Enhance Liver Distribution

September 2017

Liver transplants have saved thousands of lives in the United States, but thousands more have died while waiting for organs to become available. It is well known that a patient’s access to an organ depends on where they live. Because of the great difference in organ availability that exists from region to region, the severity of illness a patient must have to receive an organ also varies region to region. While patients with financial means and family support may have the ability to move to a region that has more readily available organs, individuals lacking financial resources and family support resources are disadvantaged.

The American Liver Foundation (ALF) supports efforts to decrease the geographic disparities that exist in the current organ allocation process, including implementation of the proposed OPTN/UNOS policy to enhance liver distribution practices. This proposal seeks to ensure that the most urgent candidates who live in close proximity to the organ donor will have the opportunity to receive an organ. This will be achieved through a broader sharing threshold within each region as well as greater access to organs within 150-nautical-miles of their transplant center. The utilization of circular distribution in thoracic transplantation and the modeling presented in support of this proposal both suggest that this change should reduce the disparities which currently exist between regions.

While the ALF fully supports this proposal as a step in the right direction to increasing fairness in organ allocation, it does not address the critical organ shortage. The ALF strongly supports efforts to increase public awareness of transplantation as a means to increase organ donation. We feel that a public service campaign featuring adults and children saved by organ transplantation would go a long way toward putting a “face” on this issue.

The ALF applauds the committee for developing this proposal which may increase the likelihood that the patients with the greatest need will receive the lifesaving organ they require, even if it means that organ comes from outside their region. Further attention to addressing the geographic disparity is warranted, and we hope this will be the first step in bringing geographic equity to organ allocation.

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