Rule Change Gives New Hope to People Waiting for an Organ

Feds says 'broken' system is being improved
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Nov 23, 2020 12:20 PM CST
Feds Say New Rule Fixes 'Broken' Organ Donation System
"For countless patients, an imperfect organ is better than no organ at all," says CMS administrator Seema Verma.   (Getty Images/gpointstudio)

The Trump administration's legacy will include a more efficient organ donation system that could save thousands of lives, under a new rule issued by the Centers for Medicaid and Medicaid services. The rule changes the way organ procurement organizations—federally funded nonprofit groups that collect organs from donors and bring them to transplant centers—are evaluated, the Washington Post reports. The 58 OPOs, which have monopolies over government-designated territories, currently self-report data, and officials say the different standards from one territory to the next make it harder to verify their performance. Officials say a new, standardized report process will improve the system and make many more organs available for transplant.

According to government statistics, there are more than 113,000 Americans on waiting lists for organs including kidneys, livers, and hearts, and around 20 people on waiting lists die each day. When the rule change was first proposed last year, officials noted that around 20% of the kidneys donated in the US were thrown away because of a "broken system" that discouraged OPOs from using "imperfect" organs, including those from donors over 50, because they wanted to keep success rates as high as possible, CNN reports. Under the new rule, which the Department of Health and Human Services believes will lead to around 5,600 more organs being transplanted every year, OPOs will be evaluated using CDC data on metrics including the percentage of possible donors who become actual donors. (More organ transplants stories.)

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