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Kidney transplant proposal would give an edge to younger patients

February 25, 2011|By Mary Forgione, Tribune Health
(Spencer Weiner / Los Angeles…)

Kidney transplant rules might be in for a big shake-up. The organization that oversees allocation of transplants has proposed changes that would favor giving the highest quality organs to younger, healthier people. 

Right now, people register with the United Network for Organ Sharing to await a kidney from a deceased donor -- and there simply aren't enough organs to go around.

"In a perfect scenario, all who need a kidney transplant would receive one without delay," the proposal says. "However, the shortage of deceased donor organs means that most candidates for kidney transplantation have to wait, oftentimes for years before receiving a transplant.

"Some transplant candidates do not survive long enough to receive a kidney from a deceased donor and die while on the waiting list. Other candidates are fortunate to receive a kidney from a living donor. While the number of living donor transplants has increased steadily over time, even with these additional kidneys, there is not enough supply to provide a transplant to all who need one."

Under the proposed rules, the network would match the highest quality organs (about 20%) with patients who have the best chance of survival; the remaining 80% of kidneys would be allocated with priority given to people 15 years older or younger than the deceased donor's age.

UNOS is currently requesting feedback on the changes and some of the concepts behind the proposal. An example: "Are the specific objectives of the proposed allocation system for kidney transplantation appropriate? Are there other objectives that should be considered?" Here's the full proposal and instructions on how to respond.
 By all means, share your thoughts with the network and also with us: Which seems fairer to you? And consider too the number of lives at stake. As of Friday, 110,484 people were on the waiting list, 26,213 transplants were performed between January and November 2010; and in that same period 13,249 were donors.

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