Proposal could make it harder to receive organ donation

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NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) – A top transplant surgeon at Vanderbilt University Medical Center is raising concern about a proposal from the United Network for Organ Sharing (UNOS) that would change the way donated livers are distributed throughout the United States.

Dr. Seth Karp, chairman of the Department of Surgery, says Tennessee and the Southeast region in general stand to lose donated livers to other parts of the country.

“About three years ago, the United Network for Organ Sharing, which runs transplantation in the United States, decided the waiting times for liver transplants were different in different parts of the country, and this was not acceptable. And so they began a process to try and repair this, to get a better system in place.”

Dr. Karp said the new proposal is being pushed by influential transplant centers in California and the Northeast.

Although he says their liver transplant waiting times are longer than other regions of the country, he says the new proposal to redistribute organs across the country is not an adequate solution.

“The way that the system is now, your local community has to donate to provide the source of the organs, and we think that bond is very important,” he said.

Dr. Karp said at Vanderbilt, if a patient dies and their family is approached about donating their deceased family member’s organs, 95 percent of families agree to do so. However, he says in New York, that number is only 50 percent.

“We feel like people in New York should donate more organs instead of asking people from Tennessee to donate more organs and send them to other places.”

“For example, New York, if they can get organs from the South, they will no longer have to worry about their local donations.”

Dr. Karp said the new proposal would result in fewer donations nationwide.

“From what we can tell, it seems like [Vanderbilt] would lose about 30 to 35 percent of our organ supply, which means ultimately that those patients would die.”

To register an opinion about the proposal, click here.

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