Organ Rationing: Who lives? Who dies?
Today there are more than 119,000 people waiting for organ transplants in the U.S. Only a small fraction of them will get the organs they need. We’ve discovered it’s not just how sick you are, but where you live can determine whether you get a lifesaving organ or not.
Matthew Rosiello is back in the DJ booth after getting a liver transplant.
Matthew was born with biliary atresia. Bile builds up in the liver and damages the vital organ.
“So, basically I was dying and I didn’t even know,” Matthew told Ivanhoe.
Matthew was on the transplant list near his home in New York City. Experts say in some metropolitan areas the wait for an organ can be longer. Matthew decided to multi-list and visited two other hospitals, in Connecticut and Ohio.
He got his new liver in Cleveland, but multi-listing can take more time, money, and support from family. It’s one reason why some say the system needs to change.
In the United States, there are eleven regions for organ sharing.
“Do I believe that this is the best way to divide the country? No,” Lewis Teperman, MD, Director of Transplantation and Vice Chair of Surgery of New York University, Langone Medical Center, told Ivanhoe.
Rather than state borders, transplant doctor Lew Teperman suggests concentric circles, meaning organs would be shared by a group of states or cities, organized by distance, time, and population—giving more patients more options.
“I’m a prime example of how it can save people’s lives,” Matthew explained.
On average, 18 people die in the U.S. each day waiting for an organ, but more donors can help prevent that. If you’re interested in becoming an organ donor, go to: http://www.organdonor.gov/index.html.
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