A new study from the University of Michigan suggests that a policy shift from the current system in which you opt in to be an organ donor to one of "presumed consent" -- unless you opt out -- could improve the situation. But it's not a silver bullet.
"Thousands of patients are dying yearly while awaiting transplantation and one reason for that is simply lack of organs," said Neehar Parikh, a transplant hepatologist at Michigan Medicine and an author of the study. "Based on the experience of other countries that have instituted presumed consent policies, a similar system in the U.S. could alleviate some of this burden."
Researchers - Estimates - Consent - List - Amount
But the researchers were surprised to find that even with their most optimistic estimates, presumed consent would only reduce the waiting list by a marginal amount.
"It speaks to the magnitude of the deficit we have for organ transplantation in the U.S.," Parikh said. "At the same time, we did find that such a policy could potentially translate to large gains in life years for the thousands of patients awaiting organ transplantation in the U.S."
Data - Organ - Procurement - Transplantation - Network
Using data from the Organ Procurement and Transplantation Network Standard Transplant Analysis and Research files, the researchers built a computer model to simulate how such a policy shift would affect patients on the waiting list for a heart, kidney, liver, lung or pancreas between 2004 and 2014. The study is published today in JAMA Network Open.
They found that opt-out, or presumed consent, would have added between 4,300 and 11,400 life years for the more than a half million patients on the list during the study period.
Estimate - Number - People - List - Death
Under the most conservative estimate, it would have reduced the number of people taken off the list due to illness or death by between 3% and 10%. And under ideal circumstances, it might have decreased waitlist removals...
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