ORGAN ALLOCATION: Rule Changes for Type O Livers?
Patients with type O blood generally wait longer than patients with other blood types for organ transplants, according to statistics from the United Network for Organ Sharing. As universal donors, patients with type O can donate organs to patients with any other blood type, but can only receive type O organs themselves. In an effort to remedy the " medical irony," UNOS is considering new restriction on the use of type O organs. It would prohibit the use of type O livers for patients with A or AB blood types; patients with the rare type B blood would remain eligible for the organs. The new rules would apply only to those hospitalized patients in need of liver transplants who "do not face imminent death." UNOS hopes the alteration will help "balance the needs of individual patients with the goals of the national system." According to 1997 UNOS data, patients with type O blood waited an average of one year and nine days longer for a liver in 1994-1996 -- four months longer than type B patients and more than five months longer than type A patients. For heart transplants, type O patients waited more than four times as long as patients with AB blood and more than twice as long as those with A or B blood. The wait disparities were smallest for type O lungs, which are reserved for type O patients (Meckler, Associated Press, 6/14).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.