KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Fifty-two U.S. House members sent a letter Friday to federal health officials voicing concerns about a proposal to change the map that governs how donated livers are distributed around the country.
The letter was written by Kansas Rep. Kevin Yoder, a Republican, and comes in advance of a meeting Tuesday in Chicago to discuss a proposal to redraw the nation's transplant regions.
Some areas have fewer donated organs, and higher demand for them, than others. The sickest patients go to the top of the waiting list. But the geographic variation means that someone in California, among the toughest places to get a new liver, waits longer and is a lot sicker before getting a transplant than someone in Ohio or Florida.
The United Network for Organ Sharing, which runs the nation's transplant network, has proposed basing the map on the distribution and demand for donated organs. But while that would help some areas, others would be negatively affected, according to the letter to the Health Resources and Services Administration, which is part of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and oversees UNOS.
The lawmakers who signed the letter are largely from the South and the Midwest, which have higher organ donation rates and fear they would be negatively affected. The letter raised concerns that organs would be traveling longer distances if changes are approved and urged more study of the issue.
"Kansans, and the Midwest as a whole, are historically generous organ donors and UNOS should not adopt proposals that punish successful programs and decrease access to organs where donation rates are highest," Yoder said in a written statement. "We must implement programs that raise the organ donor consent rate in the areas of the country where disparities in wait times are the greatest."