Liver donation radius expands for local organ donors

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The rules for liver donations have changed.

The United Network for Organ Sharing, or UNOS, is responsible for managing the nation’s organ transplant system.

Recently, the organization changed the rules on where liver donations go. For years, liver donations stayed in the region. But some areas of the country have more donors than others, creating longer wait times for a life-saving transplant.

So UNOS changed the rules. Livers from deceased donors can now go to the most critical patients that are within 575 miles.

“The whole goal of this is to try to level the playing field,” Dr. Lindsay King said. “Where a patient lives shouldn’t determine their access to a transplant. It’s how sick is the patient and are they going to die sooner without a liver transplant.”

King is a liver transplant specialist at Duke Health in Durham. King points out, while donated livers from the Carolinas can now be sent to patients outside of the region, livers from other areas can now come here.

“The upside is if we have a sick patient in North Carolina, that patient will have broader access to organs,” King said.

She feels the rule change is making a difference.

“In just making my rounds in the hospital this week. I’ve seen broader access for our pediatric recipients through this policy,” King said.

While some doctors agree with the new allocation system, other doctors in the Carolinas believe the availability of livers will drop because too many livers will leave the Carolina region.

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