December 21, 2018

Washington Post: Young Demands Reform of Organ Transplant Network

WASHINGTON – Following U.S. Senator Todd Young’s (R-Ind.) announcement that he intends to introduce legislation to bring greater transparency, oversight, and accountability to the nation’s organ donation system, the Washington Post published a new report highlighting Senator Young’s efforts.

Washington Post
Lawmaker demands reform of transplant network after Washington Post stories
By Lenny Bernstein and Kimberly Kindy
December 20 at 8:54 PM

Sen. Todd C. Young (R-Ind.) said Thursday he would introduce legislation next year calling for greater oversight of the U.S. transplant network, contending 10,000 people die annually in a system that is allowed to hide its flaws from the public and Congress.

His announcement followed stories published Thursday in The Washington Post that said the transplant industry could more than double the number of organs available for transplant each year if it expanded efforts to collect and use organs from older and nontraditional donors, such as people with hepatitis C.

Earlier this year, Young asked the federal government and the United Network for Organ Sharing — an umbrella nonprofit that oversees the system — for information on the 58 nonprofit OPOs, but was rebuffed. As a nonprofit, UNOS is not required to share certain information with Congress or the public, and medical privacy laws shield some material as well.

On Thursday, Young wrote in a news release those rules must change.

“After more than 30 years of our nation’s organ donation system operating in darkness, it’s time to get a look behind the curtain,” he said.

Young’s bill would require that federal regulators determine annually whether an OPO has performed well enough to have its federal contract recertified, as they do for nursing homes. Currently, OPOs come up for recertification every four years.

The bill also would require that Congress receive all UNOS surveys, audits, investigations and corrective action plans for OPOs. The bill would allow UNOS to redact information to protect patient confidentiality and comply with federal privacy laws. The Government Accountability Office also would investigate OPO finances.

Any change will come too late for Carl Harper, a retired uranium plant supervisor from Paducah, Ky., who died in May at 64. Harper, a recovered alcoholic, had been waiting for three years for a new liver.

“In the real world, any business being subpar for so long wouldn’t be allowed,” said Harper’s son, Steven.

Click here to read the full story.