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Clarification of media reports on OPTN kidney allocation concept document

Published on: Monday, February 28, 2011

Recent news reports have inaccurately described a request for public feedback on concepts that may be considered as part of future OPTN kidney allocation policy. To be clear, there has been no change in existing national kidney allocation policy. Furthermore, no change is imminent. Media reports have also selectively reported on the intent and possible effects of only one part of the concept document.

The document out for public comment offers concepts and rationale that have been recommended by various experts with a professional or personal involvement in kidney transplantation. Only if these concepts receive considerable public support, will they be forwarded to the next level of scrutiny and consideration. The concepts could also be amended to address specific questions or recommendations from the public before any proposal is developed.

For several years, the OPTN/UNOS Kidney Transplantation Committee has considered a variety of possible approaches to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of deceased donor kidney allocation policy. Three primary concepts are addressed in the document. Much of the media reporting has focused on the idea of age-range matching between donor and potential recipient. This reporting has overlooked or given little consideration to certain key facts about the concept:

  • The document outlines how access to deceased donor kidneys for candidates of all ages will continue.
  • For most candidates, there would be no functional difference in which organs they may be offered first. Age-range matching, if adopted, would only be the first level of consideration of potential recipients for some donor organs. If no suitable candidate is found within the suggested age range (the recipient's age is within 15 years, older or younger, of the donor's age), other older or younger candidates would then be considered. In fact, under the existing kidney allocation system, the majority of kidney recipients are already within the same age range (within 15 years of the donor's age) as discussed in the concept document.

We encourage anyone interested to read the details of the concepts and the rationale that accompanies them. We welcome informed opinion and comment to help ensure that the kidney allocation system is as effective as possible and operates in the public trust.