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Community feedback needed on development of policy for continuous distribution of hearts

Published on: Tuesday, January 23, 2024

The Organ Procurement and Transplantation Network (OPTN) Heart Transplantation Committee has been working to develop policy using the continuous distribution framework for heart allocation. Making informed decisions about weighting factors is an important part of the process, and the committee welcomes community input.

The OPTN invites the public to share feedback related to factors involved in heart allocation; to collect this input, a special values prioritization exercise is now open through March 19, 2024. This exercise is an opportunity for the community to comment on how different factors are weighted in composite scoring in heart allocation.

Patient feedback is especially important to transplant policy development, and patients are encouraged to take part. You do not need to be a clinician or a donation or transplant professional to complete the exercise.

The values exercise can be completed either online or via a hard copy.

Details about how to request a hard copy from the OPTN can be found below.

The committee also has a request for feedback on continuous distribution of hearts and has requested for input during the public comment period, which also closes March 19.

Before you participate in the values prioritization exercise

  1. Learn more about continuous distribution framework and organ allocation goals on the continuous distribution information hub page.
  • Resources include patient-friendly animations and recorded presentations that explain:
    • Organ allocation goals
    • Composite allocation scoring and the points-based system
    • A narrated video that outlines how to complete values prioritization exercises 
  1. Familiarize yourself with the proposed changes to heart allocation:

Complete the exercise online or request a hard copy from the OPTN

A link to the values prioritization exercise is on the public comment page for the committee’s request for feedback, Update on Continuous Distribution of Hearts.Or you may navigate directly to the exercise by clicking here.

Participants may also request a hard copy that can be delivered by email, fax or mail. For more details, please contact the OPTN at 1-888-894-6361 or at member.questions@unos.org, 8:30 a.m. – 5:30 p.m. ET, Monday-Friday.

More about continuous distribution and progress

The continuous distribution framework is flexible enough to apply to all organ types because it can be tailored based on the matching factors appropriate for each organ. The framework aims to:

  • Prioritize the most medically urgent candidates first to reduce waitlist deaths
  • Increase transplant opportunities for patients who are medically harder to match
  • Promote the efficient management of organ placement

Using the same framework for all organs will improve organ allocation by creating consistency and transparency for the entire transplant community. To apply the framework to each organ, each organ type will be looked at individually and result in organ-specific policy. Lung was the first organ to adopt this framework in March 2023. Lung, kidney and pancreas, and liver and intestinal organs have already been through similar online exercises.

The goals of the continuous distribution framework are consistent with allocation requirements in the National Organ Transplant Act (NOTA) and the OPTN Final Rule. Each proposed continuous distribution organ allocation policy will be reviewed for compliance with NOTA and the OPTN Final Rule by the OPTN Board of Directors prior to adoption.