Next year, the way kidneys that have been donated are allocated to those in need of a transplant, could change. The change would make the fittest organ available to those with the longest probability of living with the new kidney. The United Network of Organ Sharing (UNOS) made the announcement this week. The organization, which is non-profit, manages U.S. organ donations.
Over 93,000 people living in the U.S. are currently on a waiting list for a kidney and the supply is far outweighed by the demand. At the present time, when kidneys become available from deceased persons for donation, they become available to patients who need a transplant primarily based on the length of time the patient has waited for an organ.
While it is easy to consider the system fair, it does not attempt to minimize the number of deaths amongst people on the waiting list. It also does not maximize the survival rate, post transplant, said UNOS officials. At times, people donated kidneys of relatively poor quality live many years following their transplant, but later need a second and at times a third transplant from a pool of donated organs that is already very limited.
The new policy, if implemented, would give kidneys a score that would reflect the time the organ is likely to function inside its new owner. Those people on the waiting list would also receive a score, which would be based on how old they are, the years they have been receiving dialysis as well as other factors, which would reflect the amount of time each person would likely benefit from a kidney transplant.
Based on the scores, the top 20% of donated kidneys would then be offered to the top 20% of patients, said UNOS officials. The other 80% of kidneys would then be allocated similar to the way they are being allocated presently.