PROFESSIONAL RESPONSE TO PLEAS + DIRECTIVES FOR LUNG TRANSPLANT ACCESS

Challenged by the public, the legal system, and by recognition of the validity of concerns about possible unfairness to pediatric patients in need of lung transplants, the transplant community has responded rapidly. On Monday, June 10, 2013 the 16 member Executive Committee (and invited guests) of the  United Network for Organ Sharing/ Organ Procurement and Transplantation Network (OPTN) convened a meeting by conference call to review data, policies, and input from various sources pertaining to the allocation of organs for lung candidates age 11 or younger. The meeting agenda included:
  • Statement from the American Society of Transplant Surgeons + American Society of Transplantation
  • Letter from the House of Representatives’ Doctors’ Caucus
  • Letter from Senator Robert Casey 
  • Statement from Stephen Harvey, Esquire (attorney for the family of a critically ill pediatric lung candidate) 
  • Comments from 3 other Committees (Ethics, Thoracic and Pediatrics) 
  • Correspondence with Secretary Sebelius of HHS
  • UNOS data about lung transplantation
  • Current lung allocation policy

The outcome was a unanimous vote to effect an immediate change to policy  Policy 3.7.6.4 (Lung Candidates with Exceptional Cases) to permit transplant centers to request prospective review and additional listing (for adult lungs) of pediatric cases age 11 or younger from the Lung Review Board. This policy change will expire on July 1, 2014 pending reconsideration by the entire UNOS/OPTN Board of Directors and additional study and recommendations of the Policy from relevant Committees.

This is an example of the system and the transplant community at its finest. A data driven, comprehensive review with input from all stakeholders. Transparency in the processes defined and executed as outlined, and fully shared with the public (follow the links above). Making the best possible judgement while simultaneously acknowledging the tragedies to befall those receiving the short ends of allocation straws.

But, it would be so wrong to celebrate a process when the lives of dying patients are at stake. This system does not serve them all. It cannot unless we become more successful in addressing the organ shortage. Register now to be an organ and tissue donor. Become an effective ambassador for this cause and these patients. Join our team.

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