The region from where a local hospital can receive organs from donors is now smaller. Federal officials denied a bid by Methodist University Hospital Transplant Institute to continue receiving organs across the state.
"It will limit the amount of organs that will come to Memphis, and that's one of the unfortunate things and something we need to continue to advocate for," says Methodist CEO Kevin Spiegel.
The hospital requested earlier to work with Nashville-based Tennessee Donor Services (TDS) along with the Mid-South Transplant Foundation. Now, Methodist is limited, only able to receive organs through the Mid-South Transplant Foundation, which primarily serves West Tennessee.
"After carefully considering all of the comments received, we find that the approval of the waiver would not increase organ donation, and would maintain an organ sharing arrangement that does not ensure the equitable treatment of patients," says Jonathan Blum, acting principal deputy administrator and director for Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS).
Methodist's request to continue working with TDS was submitted before the dissolution of the state's Alternative Allocation System for livers. The system was dissolved earlier in December, which means Methodist can only obtain livers from the Mid-South Transplant Foundation.
"It makes two completely different OPOs (organ procurement organizations): The Memphis OPO and then the rest of the state as an OPO. We would like to see that there's one OPO for the state of Tennessee," says Spiegel, "When we had a share agreement within Tennessee it was clear for the last ten years that the sickest patient in Tennessee would receive the organ. Now that we do not have the organ share we're limited to our small OPO."
The Mid-Sough Transplant Foundation says this decision is part of a nationwide effort to level the playing field for organ donation distribution.
"Those patients that are the sickest will have better access to receiving the organs that they need and that's what the national system is creating to do, to make sure those that need an organ the most have access to the organ when they need it," says Kim Van Frank, Executive Director of the Mid-South Transplant Foundation.
Methodist says it is moving forward: The hospital's CEO says they're taking this as a sign to explore other venues, like kidney shares. Spiegel says they also to continue to advocate for Memphians to become organ donors.