Government Plans Overhaul Of Troubled Organ Donor And Transplant System

By Bill Galluccio

March 23, 2023

organ transplant surgery
Photo: Getty Images

The Health Resources and Services Administration announced plans to overhaul the United States' beleaguered Organ Procurement and Transplantation Network. The agency said there are 104,000 people currently on the waiting list for an organ transplant and that 17 people die every day waiting for a life-saving transplant.

The HRSA is asking for $67 million, nearly double its current budget, to update and modernize the system that was designed in the 1980s.

"This system and the statute that governs it are almost 40 years old," Carole Johnson, the administrator of the Health Resources and Services Administration, told the New York Times. "Technologies improved. Government processes about transparency have improved. And so the time was ripe for us to do this."

The biggest proposed change would be breaking up the monopoly held by the United Network for Organ Sharing since 1986. The HRSA will seek bids from other contractors to help manage organ donations across the country.

In addition, a newly created independent board of directors will oversee the organ donor and transplant process. To make the entire system more transparent, the HRSA will create an online dashboard that provides members of the public with information about organ retrieval, waitlist outcomes, and transplants.

"Every day, patients and families across the United States rely on the Organ Procurement and Transplantation Network to save the lives of their loved ones who experience organ failure," Johnson said in a statement. "At HRSA, our stewardship and oversight of this vital work is a top priority. That is why we are taking action to both bring greater transparency to the system and to reform and modernize the OPTN. The individuals and families that depend on this life-saving work deserve no less."

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