Proponents claim a new donor liver allocation plan would be more equitable for patients; foes say it could raise costs and close programs.
A proposal to change how donor livers are distributed has reignited the battle over which patients should be considered first for transplants.
Currently, organs donated in one of the nation's 11 designated geographic districts are generally offered to patients in a smaller area served by a designated local organ procurement agency. However, districts with many transplant candidates are not necessarily the districts with the most donors.
Although all areas of the country have long lists of transplant candidates, those in some districts must wait longer for a donor liver, or be more ill, than patients in other districts.
The latest plan comes from a joint committee including the federal Organ Procurement and Transplantation Network (OPTN), and the United Network for Organ Sharing (UNOS), which manages the nation's transplant system.
The OPTN/UNOS plan would create eight larger districts apportioned to allow more equitable access for those in need of liver transplant regardless of their place of residence, according to the plan.
With some exceptions, organs would be shared across these larger districts for seriously ill patients before they would be offered locally.
Tinker Ready is a contributing writer at HealthLeaders Media.