The Hill

Trump Administration Wants More Kidneys To Fix ‘Broken’ Organ Transplant System

Americans need more kidneys. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) estimates that 20 people die while waiting for organ transplants in the country every day. 

To date, there are more than 95,000 people on the kidney transplant waiting list and the figure is expected to grow. HHS said nearly 3,000 people are added to the list every month, CNN reported Wednesday.

However, there is a "broken" organ procurement system in the U.S., according to Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar. That puts thousands of people at risk of dying without an organ transplant across the country. 

Official records show that one in five donated kidneys ends up in the trash in the U.S. The Trump administration blamed the current system that disincentivizes the transplant of some organs. 

"Unfortunately, today, and for decades, we haven't done everything we can to procure organs from deceased donors, and we haven't been providing enough support for living donors," Azar said at a press conference.

To address the issue, the Trump administration plans to make policy changes targeting the organ donation system. One of these changes wider incentives for living donors. 

The proposed update to the organ transplant system would expand the covered expenses for the donor, including lost wages and child and eldercare, to encourage more transplants. The government aims to provide 5,000 additional organ transplants each year in the U.S.

The new system would also increase transparency and accountability within the government. The administration looks to requiring the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to guide the evaluation of organ procurement organizations (OPOs) that manage the organ procurement process.

The CDC will work with the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) to speed up the process and to monitor how OPOs pick donated kidneys for future transplants. OPOs currently pick only organs from perfect candidates, which contributes to the kidney shortage in the country. 

The new system would help "eliminate today's perverse incentives," to throw away viable organs and encourage OPOs to consider more "imperfect organs," Seema Verma, administrator for CMS, said. 

Imperfect organs are viable but may come from an older patient or a patient who has high blood pressure. Researchers previously found that some methods and technology could help make these organs work well in patients. 

"For countless patients, an imperfect organ is better than no organ at all. And for someone on a waitlist, that may be the difference between life and death,” Verma added. 

surgery A new study shows that the opioid epidemic could help provide more organs to patients and expand the donor pool. Pixabay