Statement of OPTN/UNOS Executive Director Walter Graham Regarding Liver Transplant for Shari Kurzrok
In recent days, considerable media attention has been focused on Ms. Shari Kurzrok and her urgent need for a liver transplant. Her experience has also brought attention to the desperate need for organ donation shared by 89,000 patients now awaiting transplantation across the country. We are pleased to have been informed that Ms. Kurzrok has received a transplant through the standard operation of the national Organ Procurement and Transplantation Network (OPTN) matching system, which is operated by the United Network for Organ Sharing (UNOS) under federal contract.
It is important to emphasize that an established system is in place to help all transplant candidates awaiting organs from deceased donors. As required by federal law and regulation, this system is based upon established medical criteria and equity – ensuring that candidates receive priority based on their medical need and not on personal characteristics or social status. This is fundamental to ensuring public trust in the transplant system.
In liver transplantation there are several key matching factors, including:
- The candidate’s level of medical urgency;
- The medical compatibility between donor and candidate; and
- The relative amount of time the organ must be preserved between recovery and transplantation.
The OPTN uses a highly sophisticated, computerized system to assess medical factors among donors and candidates and prioritize potential recipients. The OPTN provides donor information to the transplant physician, who then decides whether a specific organ offer is acceptable.
The OPTN’s organ allocation system is designed to provide every possible opportunity to patients awaiting life-saving transplantation. Ultimately, however, all transplant candidates rely on the selfless act of organ donation. One organ and tissue donor can save and enhance the lives of 50 people. We encourage everyone to help patients in need by making and sharing a commitment to Donate Life.