Major Organ Shortage Set for Mid-South

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(Memphis) There were 260 organ transplants performed at Methodist University Hospital in Memphis in 2011.

Those are lives that were saved by liver and kidney transplants.

But that number could reduce dramatically starting in December.

“Right now a donor organ will go to the top person on the list regardless of whether that person is listed in Memphis or whether that person is listed in Nashville,” said Chief of Transplant at Methodist University Hospital Dr James Eason.

Eason is well-known for performing former Apple CEO Steve Job’s liver transplant.

Under the current system, those in need of organs have access to organs across the state.

However, the state is covered by two different Organ Procurement Organizations.

Memphis, West Tennessee and the entire Mid-South is covered by Mid-South Transplant Foundation.

The eastern two-thirds of the state are covered by Tennessee Donor Services.

Last summer, the government ruled the two organization’s agreement to share organs violated policy.

Starting in December, patients in the Mid-South will only have access to organs covered by the Mid-South Transplant Foundation (the area above in red).

That will cut access of organs by 75%.

“After the rule is changed our sickest person who is on the brink of death waiting can not get access to (a liver in Jackson, Tennessee) and that liver can go to the least sick person on Nashville’s list,” said Eason.

He claimed a simple solution would be for the Mid-South Transplant Foundation and Tennessee Donor Services to merge.

However, Dr. Eason claims Mid-South Transplant Foundation is unwilling to merge.

Calls to Mid-South Transplant Foundation were not returned before this story was published.

Eason told us Methodist Le Bonheur Children’s Hospital has applied to join Tennessee Donor Services which will give them access to the larger pool of organs in the state.

Eason said this will still not be the best situation.

Now the healthcare system is looking for patients and supporters to write letters of support to The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services to show support.

This would help in their case to join Tennessee Donor Services.

Click here for instructions on submitting a letter

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