Are donated organs given out fairly? - ABC 12 – WJRT – Flint, MI

Are donated organs given out fairly?

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FLINT (WJRT) -

(12/31/13) - The stories of people waiting for life-saving organ transplants are heart-breaking. Now, some people are trying to change the process for matching donors with patients.

There are nearly 120,000 people waiting for organs in the United States. How sick a patient is does not always determine their place in line - in fact, geography often plays a bigger role.

Matthew Rosiello is back in the DJ booth after getting a liver transplant. Matthew was born with Biliary Atresia. Bile builds up in the liver and damages the vital organ.  

"So, basically, I was dying and I didn't even know," says Matthew, who was on the transplant waiting list near his home in New York City.

Experts say in some metropolitan areas, the wait for an organ can be longer. Matthew decided to multi-list and he visited two other hospitals. One was in Connecticut, the other, in Ohio. He eventually got his new liver in Cleveland.

Multi-listing, like Matthew did, can take a lot of time, money, and added support from family, among many reasons some, like Dr. Lewis Teperman, say the system needs to change, "do I believe that this is the best way to divide the country? No."

In the United States, there are 11 regions for organ sharing. Rather than using state borders, Dr. Teperman, of New York University, suggests using concentric circles. This process would mean organs would be shared by a group of states or cities, organized by distance, time, and population - giving more patients, more options.   

"I'm a prime example of how it can save people's lives," Matthew says.

On average, 18 people in the United States die each day waiting for an organ. If you are interested in becoming an organ donor, you can get more information at www.organdonor.gov. In Michigan, you can register through the Secretary of State's office.

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