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Statement regarding St. Vincent liver transplant program

Published on: Monday, September 26, 2005

United Network for Organ Sharing (UNOS), as operator of the federally contracted Organ Procurement and Transplantation Network (OPTN), is aware of the voluntary inactivation of the liver transplant program at St. Vincent Medical Center.

The center took this action, following an internal investigation prompted by a routine audit conducted by UNOS, which revealed possible violations of OPTN policies. St. Vincent Medical Center has worked cooperatively with UNOS since learning the results of the initial review. St. Vincent also is coordinating closely with UNOS to ensure that its current liver transplant candidates are transferred to other local transplant programs with no interruption in their allocation priority, as provided for in OPTN policy.

"The national transplant system is dependent upon the public's trust in the equity of that system, and the willingness of the public to agree to donation," commented Francis L. Delmonico, M.D., president of the OPTN/UNOS. "We want the general public -- and especially those awaiting organ transplants -- to know that there are policies and standards governing the equitable distribution of organs that must be adhered to throughout the country."

UNOS believes that the rigorous OPTN compliance review process, coupled with the oversight of agencies such as the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) and the California Department of Health Services, will determine any actions needed to ensure that the needs of urgent transplant candidates are properly served.

UNOS routinely audits all U.S. heart and liver transplant programs to assess compliance with OPTN policies and Federal laws. The review process is designed to ensure that transplant candidates receive appropriate priority for suitable organ offers, thus creating an atmosphere of public trust to support organ donation.

The OPTN reviews any potential issues of non-compliance with Federal rules and policies in a confidential, peer review process. HRSA participates in this process. UNOS cannot publicly disclose the specifics of any review unless the OPTN/UNOS Board of Directors approves a public release of information upon taking final action.

In recent years, non-resident foreign nationals have accounted for less than one percent of all transplant recipients nationwide. The proportion of non-resident foreign national recipients is roughly the same as the proportion of non-resident foreign nationals who become deceased organ donors in the United States.

The Organ Procurement and Transplantation Network (OPTN) is operated under contract with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Health Resources and Services Administration, Division of Transplantation by the United Network for Organ Sharing (UNOS). The OPTN brings together medical professionals, transplant recipients and donor families to develop organ transplantation policy.