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Montefiore in the News

Current Geographic Disparities in Access Lead to Longer Wait Times and Avoidable Deaths

New York City, (May 20, 2015) -- Today, Montefiore Health System announced its support for the Coalition for Organ Distribution Equity (CODE), a national coalition with the mission of reducing geographic disparities in wait times for donated organs and the severity of patients’ illnesses at the time of transplant. These disparities are responsible for more than 100 avoidable deaths every year. 

“There is a dire need for organs in New York to save the lives of our desperately ill patients,” said Milan Kinkhabwala, M.D., chief of the Division of Transplantation and director of Abdominal Transplantation at Montefiore Medical Center. “On average, 17 patients die every day in New York State while waiting for an organ transplant.”    

The demand for transplantable organs in the United States has long outpaced the supply. More than 90,000 people are on the nation's organ transplant waiting list and about 10 percent of them are in New York State. While 7,000 people in our area are waiting for life-saving organs, last year, this area had only 261 donors. On average, 106 people are added to the nation’s organ transplant waiting list each day -- one person in desperate need of a transplanted organ every 14 minutes. 

Making matters worse, the nation’s organ allocation system creates geographic disparities in access to organs: people living in some parts of the country, particularly New York, wait far longer and are sicker when they receive organs than those in other parts of the country. Consequently, hundreds of Americans needlessly die every year waiting for organs. By decreasing the number of regions used to determine organ allocation, discrepancies in wait times can be reduced and lives can be saved. 

CODE strongly supports efforts by the Organ Procurement and Transplant Network (OPTN), under the authority of the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA), to reform the methodology by which organs are distributed for transplant in the U.S. Last summer, the OPTN-designated United Network for Organ Sharing (UNOS) Liver and Intestinal Organ Transplantation Committee issued a concept paper that outlined new organ distribution models. CODE is calling for a data-driven approach to determining a new methodology that will reduce geographic disparities and save lives. 

The UNOS Liver Committee is convening on June 22 in Chicago to discuss its progress and welcome public comment. CODE members will participate in the meeting and report on recommendations and actions coming out of it. 

The Montefiore Einstein Center for Transplantation is one of the most active and successful programs in the country. The Center unites the outstanding clinical staff at Montefiore Medical Center with the world-renowned science faculty at Albert Einstein College of Medicine. This enables its experts to offer innovative treatments and access to advanced clinical research trials. Some of these innovative treatments permit transplantation that may not be possible at other centers. From preoperative evaluation, to advanced intraoperative techniques, to comprehensive psychosocial support for patients and families, the Center for Transplantation stands at the vanguard of transplant care. 

In fact, Montefiore patient survival rates consistently rank higher than the national average, with 91.4% liver transplant (adult) 1-year survival vs. 81.2% national liver transplant (adult) 1-year survival.