Why some Kansas physicians opposed UNOS' proposed liver sharing circles

Some physicians and surgeons at the University of Kansas in Lawrence said the United Network for Organ Sharing's proposal to change organ donation distribution zones would adversely affect liver transplant programs, according to KCTV 5 News.

"We could see upwards of a 40 percent decrease in transplant numbers in our region and that means patients could have to wait twice as long as they do now," Tim Schmitt, MD, a physician in the transplant program at Kansas City-based University of Kansas Medical Center, told KCTV 5 News.

UNOS creates the rules for organ allocation, which vary for each organ. For example, livers are paired with patients based on blood type, liver size and patient sickness.

UNOS is pushing for liver sharing circles that center around major transplants centers in place of regional sharing. Currently, there are 11 designated organ sharing regions in the U.S., according to UNOS' website.

UNOS' proposal to draw liver donation zones around transplants centers would increase the size of the zones, which raises concerns among some clinicians who say shipping liver donations long distances could potentially harm patients and increase costs.

"This is not how we want to practice. We want to help people and do our job. Our job now is to completely fight the system to advocate for our patients so they can have a chance at life," Sean Kumer, MD, a transplant surgeon at the University of Kansas Medical Center, told KCTV 5 News.

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