New group pushes to overhaul organ donations-Coalition for Organ Distribution Equity

By Peter Sullivan- The Hill
Published on May 23, 2015

A new group launched Wednesday is seeking to reform the process for liver transplants to reduce geographic differences in wait times, an issue that has split lawmakers.

The group, called the Coalition for Organ Distribution Equity (CODE), is made up of hospitals and groups that facilitate organ donations.
It is seeking to make its voice heard with UNOS, the nonprofit that contracts with the federal government to oversee the organ donation process, ahead of a key June 22 meeting.

The problem is that 16,000 people in the U.S. are waiting for liver transplants, as demand outpaces supply. “Consequently, hundreds of Americans needlessly die every year while waiting for organs,” CODE said in a statement.

The country is divided into 11 regions, and some regions have much lower wait times than others. CODE is looking at a proposal to reduce the number of regions and cut the disparity in wait times.

The prospect of changing the system has split members of Congress, with those representing areas with high wait times backing the changes, while others worry the changes would make their areas worse off.

California and northeastern states like New York, New Hampshire, and Massachusetts currently have higher wait times.

“Because of disparities in the existing system, patients in our states in need of transplants have disproportionately longer waiting times and waitlist mortality rates,” a bipartisan group of senators from those states wrote in December to the Health Resources and Services Administration, the government agency in charge.

However, the Georgia delegation wrote to the administration in April, warning that the proposed reorganization would harm Georgia by regrouping it with northeastern states, and noting that there are already “several high performing transplant centers in Georgia.”

But CODE maintains that by reducing the number of regions, “discrepancies in wait times can be reduced and lives can be saved.”

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