237 years behind on your reading? Then this article by AP Medical Writer Lauran Neergaard might baffle you;
Where you live can affect your chances of getting a liver transplant, and your risk of dying while waiting. The nation's transplant network says it's time to make the system fairer — and it may take a cue from how politicians redraw voting maps.
"Gerrymandering for the public good" is how Johns Hopkins University transplant surgeon Dr. Dorry Segev describes a proposal to change the map that governs how donated livers are distributed around the country.
The problem: Some areas have fewer donated organs, and higher demand for them, than others. The sickest patients go to the top of the waiting list. But the geographic variation means that someone in California, among the toughest places to get a new liver, waits longer and is a lot sicker before getting transplanted than someone in Ohio or Florida — if they survive long enough.
"This should not be happening," Segev said.No, it should not...and wouldn't if the price mechanism was allowed to work. Which is does if you're rich enough;
Desperate patients sometimes travel across the country to get on a shorter waiting list, if they can afford it or even know it's possible. The best-known example is the late Apple CEO Steve Jobs, who lived in California but in 2009 had a transplant in Memphis, Tenn., which at the time had one of the shortest waits. That's harder for the less wealthy to do.If an actual market for organs was allowed, more livers might mysteriously (as if led by an invisible hand) find their way to those in need of them. Eliminating this problem;
One big challenge will be turf wars, as transplant centers with shorter waits understandably don't want them to lengthen, said committee chairman Dr. David Mulligan of the Mayo Clinic in Phoenix.
"Every doctor wants the best for their patients. The issue becomes stepping back and looking at the big picture and thinking about all the patients," said Mulligan, who hopes to have a proposal ready for public comment within two years. "Yes, your patient waits a little longer, but they can wait a little longer."
Smaller disparities exist for some other transplants, including kidneys, but the transplant network is focusing first on livers. It wouldn't be a problem if there were more organ donors, Mulligan noted, encouraging people to register: "It's the last chance we have to be a hero in our lives."Dismal...science...but, unavoidable.