If someone donates one of their kidneys and later needs a new one, should they go to the top of the transplant waitlist? Yes, say good people. Yes, say normal people. Not anymore, say the bureaucrats in charge of the transplant waitlist. Instead, they say it’s time for a “more equitable approach.”
Currently, the people at the top of the kidney transplant waitlist are people who have donated one of their organs to someone else (living donors), young children who are a great biological match with an organ, and patients who are very hard to be matched with any organ. The United Network for Organ Sharing (UNOS) is a private non-profit that holds a contract with the federal government to run the transplant waitlist, and they want to change that. UNOS wants to remove these “hard boundaries” in favor of a new system that erodes the protections for living donors.
A report commissioned by UNOS envisions a drastic reduction in prioritization for living donors — going from the current virtual guarantee of getting a new kidney to a slight bonus on the waiting list — equivalent to as low as 10 percent of the total prioritization score. This policy would betray those who have already donated an organ and discourage others from donating in the future. They are pushing this policy even though their own research shows that changing from the current policy will not reduce death rates but lead to a higher rate of failed kidney transplants in the first year after surgery.
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