Inconsistencies in Organ Donation Evaluation Policies Result in Viable Organs Going to Waste

The United States does not have a universal protocol for evaluating the viability of organs for donation. Instead, the country is divided into 58 independent zones, each with its own organ procurement organization (“OPO”). OPOs are responsible for: determining what organs are suitable for donation at the time of a person’s death; obtaining consent for their donation; and collecting and transporting the organs. Inconsistencies among the evaluation standards employed by the various OPOs create problems: each of the 58 OPOs employs independent standards in determining an organ’s viability for donation.  Furthermore, no deterrence action is implemented for an OPO that allows usable organs to go to waste. Presently, OPOs lack a method for objectively evaluating their organ procurement programs. Rather, OPOs subjectively self-report their progress to the government. The resulting variance in the evaluation standards makes it difficult to accurately gauge and compare OPOs’ performances against one another. In addition,  the government lacks protocols to effectively identify and issue accountability of poorly performing zones. Fortunately, this may change in the future. The Trump administration plans to implement stricter standards that would allow for a level-playing field on which it will become possible to compare OPOs and encourage performance improvement for those underperforming.

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Blog post authored by Jacqueline Condon

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