ORGAN DISTRIBUTION: New System Would Help Bay Area
Bay Area residents who need organ transplants "would rise to the top of the list under a federal proposal that seeks to bring more fairness to the huge disparities in waiting time across the nation," the San Jose Mercury News reports. Currently, "Bay Area patients endure some of the longest waits in the country" because it "has more critically ill patients awaiting transplants than most areas" due to the presence of three major transplant centers in the area and only one local organ pool. About 5,000 people in Northern California are currently waiting for organs in a local organ-sharing area that extends from "San Luis Obispo to the Oregon border and east, including Reno." However, the Mercury News notes that many of the local areas "appear so irrational they resemble political gerrymandering." As a result, "Sacramento has its own separate organ collection agency," and "the waiting times are shorter." While someone awaiting a liver in San Francisco "can expect to wait 18 months," a patient in Sacramento only has an average wait of 2 1/2 months. Under the new system, organs would be distributed on a national basis rather than a regional one, so patients in high-demand regions would see their waiting times equalized. Phyllis Weber, executive director of the California Transplant Donor Network, said that under the new guidelines, many "local transplant patients will benefit ... and ultimately, waiting times will even out" (Guido, 4/29).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.