Last month, the U.S. government revealed its plan to overhaul the country’s organ transplant system. The system isn’t meeting the needs of many patients, with about 104,000 individuals awaiting organ transplants on the list. It is said that 17 individuals die daily waiting for a transplant, with minority and/or poor patients being overlooked in favor of White and affluent individuals.
For almost four decades now, the United Network for Organ Sharing (UNOS) has managed this system. The federal Health Resources and Services Administration administrator, Carole Johnson, has proposed that some of the responsibility shouldered by UNOS be entrusted to other organizations.
In a recent interview, Johnson explained that other organizations would be invited to take on these responsibilities, explaining that entities would bid for separate contracts, which will create a competitive environment. She added that the agency’s objective was to identify top providers for all the functions essential for running the transplant system, noting that the agency would do everything possible to improve this system, which families and patients depended on.
The Health Resources and Services Administration is responsible for the transplant network. The administration is party to a $6.5 million annual contract with UNOS. The network has been plagued by various issues under UNOS, including organ damage in transit, organs being discarded, poor performers not being held fully accountable, faulty technology compromising transplants and organs failing to be collected.
Data from the Scientific Registry of Transplant Recipients shows that roughly 21% of kidneys procured through the network were not transplanted.
In a statement, UNOS stated it welcomes a competitive bidding process and that it supported the agency’s plan to introduce reforms into the organ transplantation and donation system. In addition to the aforementioned changes, the federal proposal will also change how the transplant system is structured through the installation of a board independent of UNOS. It will also establish a public dashboard for the large volumes of data generated by the system and help make the process of how organs and patients are matched more transparent.
The Biden administration has committed $67 million in its proposed fiscal 2024 budget for the modernization of the network. This figure is almost twice the amount in the current budget.
The technology used by surgeons, transplants coordinators and others will also be improved under the proposal. Furthermore, the proposal asks that the 1984 National Organ Transplant Act be amended and the cap on what can be spent on contractors be raised.
As federal authorities move to reform the transplant system, others interested parties such as Aditxt Inc. (NASDAQ: ADTX) are working to improve the rates of successful transplantation by reprogramming the immune system to lower the chances of transplant organ rejection.
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