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OPTN/UNOS Board addresses organ placement efficiency, en bloc kidney allocation

Atlanta – The OPTN/UNOS Board of Directors, at its meeting December 4-5, adopted policy changes intended to enhance the efficiency of the processes of offering and accepting donated organs for transplant candidates.

“As stewards of the very precious gift of human organs, we must do our utmost to get them placed efficiently for the candidates who may benefit the most from them,” said Yolanda Becker, M.D., president of the OPTN/UNOS Board of Directors.

The new requirements shorten the maximum length of time for transplant hospitals to be notified of organ offers for transplant candidates and to respond to those offers.  The current time limits of one hour each for offer notification and for acceptance/refusal will be lowered to 30 minutes for each step (one hour total from notification to final acceptance).  A review of OPTN data showed that already in about 90 percent of all organ offers, the notification and response processes have met the new time thresholds.  The updated policy also sets new requirements regarding the number of organ offers a transplant hospital may accept for the same candidate at the same time. 

In separate action, the Board approved a new policy to address allocation of en bloc kidneys (two kidneys from small pediatric donors that are recovered together with associated blood vessels and transplanted together into a recipient).  The policy is intended to increase utilization of available kidneys and establish criteria for efficient placement of en bloc kidney offers.

In addition, the Board announced plans to convene an ad hoc Committee on Geography to advise the Board on common principles for more systematic evaluation of geographic aspects of organ distribution.  The committee’s composition will include leadership of organ-specific allocation committees, members of the Board, and other individuals with relevant expertise.

The Board also elected a new Patient and Donor Affairs representative, Robert Goodman, M.B.A., to complete the term of a departing Board member, Elizabeth Schumacher, J.D.

The Organ Procurement and Transplantation Network (OPTN) brings together medical professionals, transplant recipients and donor families to develop national organ transplantation policy.  United Network for Organ Sharing serves as the OPTN under contract with the Department of Health and Human Services, Health Resources and Services Administration.