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Delay Made In Liver Donation Policy Change

Those that are needing a liver transplant in Missouri could have a better chance at receiving the life saving transplant after the Department of Health and Human Services delayed implementing changes to the national liver distribution policy made by the Organ Procurement and Transplantation Network (OPTN), but it’s only by two weeks.

In December, the OPTN approved a new liver distribution system that replaces the donation service area and regional boundaries with geographic distribution units based on a combination of  the candidates’ level of medical urgency and the relative distance from the donor to the transplant hospital. That new policy was set to go into effect on April 30th. Under the new policy, midwestern and southern transplant hospitals, including hospitals located in St. Louis and Kansas City, could see patients waiting longer for a liver match.

At a Labor/HHS hearing this month, Blunt pressed HHS Secretary Alex Azar about the changes made to the national liver allocation policy.

U.S Senator Roy Blunt tells News Talk KZRG Thursday “This delay is good news for Missouri patients who are anxiously waiting for a liver transplant. The new policy penalizes successful organ transplant areas of the country, like ours.”

He went on to say this impending policy change will further complicate the transplant process, lead to fewer organ transplants in Missouri, increase costs, and will provide no real improvement in patient outcomes. Blunt believes if Health and Human Services don’t drop the policy, the courts will be have to be involved to block it.

Under the new plan, Missouri could lose 32 percent of livers donated in the state.

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