Not enough livers to go around, so who gets them?

Photo courtesy of University of Kansas Medical Center.

File photo courtesy of University of Kansas Medical Center.

Both sides had their say Tuesday at a Chicago hearing on a change that would take donated livers from the Midwest for use on the east and west coasts.

KU Hospital, among more than 40 transplant programs opposing the change, put out a press release on the hearing late Tuesday.

The United Network for Organ Sharing (UNOS) held the day long forum for input on its proposal to allocate donor livers on a national instead of regional basis.

Livers currently go to the sickest patients within 11 regions, and the Midwest and southern regions have higher donor rates than those on the coasts.

The local Midwest Region 8 has the highest donor rate in the nation at 82 percent. The New York state region has the lowest at 55 percent.

UNOS contends the change would save 500 more lives over five years.

From the press release:

Opponents question that, saying the same 6,000 donated livers a year would be in play either way.

“There is no evidence presented today showing more lives would be saved through redistricting, but plenty of concern that broader sharing would further limit access to minorities and patients in small towns,” said Dr. Tim Schmitt of KU Hospital.

“The models showed 500 lives could be saved over five years through broader sharing, but if other regions increased their donation rate to match the Midwest … we could save 5,000 lives,” he said.

He and many others there said organ donation awareness is the solution to the problem.

The full UNOS board will consider the issue at a November meeting.

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