New policy on donated organs to be selective
Currently, donated kidneys go primarily to whoever has been on the transplant list the longest
There is a problem with organ donation in America and that is that there is often more demand for them than there is availability. That means some potential recipients will die before they can receive a life-prolonging transplant.
This is especially true of kidney transplants, and the United Network for Organ Sharing (UNOS), the nonprofit organization that oversees organ placement in the United States, wants to change its policy on who gets which organs.
Its proposal, which could go into effect next year, is bound to generate some controversy because it would decide to some extent which patients get the best donated kidneys.
Not all donated kidneys are of equal quality. Some are very healthy and are likely to have a long-term viability after the transplant. Others are less healthy and may fail after a relatively short time.
Currently, donated kidneys – whatever their condition – go primarily to whoever has been on the transplant list the longest, even if their likelihood of living a long life is smaller.
UNOS wants to try to ensure that the best kidneys go to those who are likely to live the longest, such as children, after receiving them. They would do this by “grading” the donated kidneys to determine their viability. The top 20 percent would go to those likely to live longer with them and the remaining 80 percent would be distributed as they are now.
UNOS believes this would result in 8,000 total extra years of live annually for individuals.
While the goal is a worthy one, anytime you “select” someone to receive extra help over someone else, there is bound to be criticism.
The policy also doesn't address the deeper issue of a lack of adequate donations of organs to meet demand. That is the problem that really needs to be solved.
Still, the policy should be tried. It makes sense to make the best use possible of the limited available organs.