Liver Transplant Communities Overwhelmingly Vote-Down Re-districting of Livers-UNOS Says Votes Don’t Matter

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Jill Chadwick

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             Doctors and other liver transplant professionals across the U.S. continue to vote down a proposal backed by UNOS that would shift livers from one population base to another.  In every case, the shift forces the flow of livers from smaller often rural areas with higher MELD scores at transplant and waiting list mortality to bigger, primarily coastal cities with lower MELD scores at transplant and waiting list mortality. (MELD scores contribute to the ranking of when a patient gets a transplant.)  The overwhelming consensus among health professionals in the transplant community is the proposal under public comment now is ‘fundamentally flawed’. Critics say it results in zero lives saved, fewer transplants (200 fewer per year according to UNOS), and reduces access to transplantation for patients in the South, Midwest and Northwestern parts of the country … many of which have high percentages of minority populations. The proposal threatens the economic and structural healthcare delivery systems throughout large areas of the South, Midwest and Northwestern states by forcing 30 donor service areas to export between 2% to 46% of the donor livers. (See animated map in video below.)

Doctors and transplant professionals add that the proposal by UNOS results in unnecessary transplantation costs and unacceptable increases in workload and risks to transplant professionals. Perhaps the biggest flaw of all is the UNOS proposal provides no incentive for areas with fewer organ donors to work on increasing donation.

Despite the many complaints and votes of ‘no confidence’ in the proposal, UNOS president Dr. Stuart Sweet says the regional votes don’t count “in any way, shape or form” in UNOS final decision. Hear Dr. Sweet’s full comments in the video below and see the map depicting the forced flow of livers as proposed by UNOS.