Transplant docs expected to clash at forum on liver allocations
The United Network for Organ Sharing has released a preliminary plan to overhaul the current system for determining which patients receive donated livers, and many transplant physicians are gearing up to fight it.
UNOS, which contracts with the federal government to oversee the organ transplant system, is hosting a forum Tuesday in Chicago to discuss the issue. Dr. David Mulligan, chair of the group’s Liver and Intestinal Committee, stressed that no formal proposal will be released until at least next spring.
The discussion arose from large geographic disparities in access to donated livers. Patients in the Northeast and on the West Coast are less likely to receive organ transplants in a timely manner. In 2013, nearly 3,000 Americans died while awaiting a transplant or were removed from the transplant list because they had become too sick.
“There are many people that are dying every week around the country because they can’t get access to life- saving livers,” said Mulligan, the chief of transplantation and immunology at Yale-New Haven Hospital.
But the plan has sparked a backlash from transplant doctors in states that could see reduced access to livers under the reapportionment. Last month, more than 40 signed a letter to the Health Resources and Services Administration raising concerns about the process. “If this proposal becomes implemented without adequate and constructive improvements, it would represent the most drastic change in liver allocation ever,” they warned.