Public Help Is Needed To Protect Local Liver Transplant Patients

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Jill Chadwick

News Director

Office: (913) 588-5013

Cell: (913) 223-3974

Email

jchadwick@kumc.edu

Public comment just began for the second attempt in two years by UNOS to grab livers from parts of the country where access to healthcare is less and the supply of donor organs higher to give to bigger cities with lower donation rates. The plan would expand Share 35 which, since 2013, has dictated where livers go upon donation resulting in a frenzy of flying livers around without saving more lives.

“Donors are not a commodity.  They are human beings with families and give a great gift,” Timothy Schmitt, director of transplantation at The University of Kansas Hospital said. “The whole system is based on people giving. Disparity in donation should be the focus … not the shipping of livers.”

Sean Kumer, surgical director of transplantation at The University of Kansas Hospital said, “Flying organs also poses a risk to the livers and transplantation teams that are flying greater distances (under Share 35) and more often to recover organs. It’s time and energy that also drives up the costs of transplant and without saving more lives.”

            According to the UNOS proposal released on Aug. 15, 2016, the changes would:

  • INCREASE liver transport time by up to 11 percent
  • INCREASE liver transportation distance by up to 87 percent from a median of 124 miles to up to 232 miles)
  • INCREASE the number of livers that would need to be flown by chartered aircraft by 13 percent (the proposal states that up to 73.1 percent of livers could be flown)
  • INCREASE the cost to hospital transplant centers and organ procurement organizations due to additional and extended transportation requirements of the new proposal
  • DECREASE the number of liver transplants by two percent

The University of Kansas Hospital transplant team believes a proposal that does not save any more lives, almost doubles the transport time of these vital organs and costs more money is not a proposal the public should be too quick to support. UNOS has opened the public comment period on this proposal on its site: https://optn.transplant.hrsa.gov/governance/public-comment/redesigning-liver-distribution/

Those interested in liver donation are encouraged to review the proposal carefully, consider all of the facts presented and provide feedback.

In the video, Sean Kumer, MD, surgical director explains in more detail how expanding Share 35 impacts Midwest transplant programs including The University of Kansas Hospital.