Dire need to reform organ procurement rules: KarpMay. 5, 2021, 2:52 PM
by Bill Snyder
A rule requiring greater accountability from organ procurement organizations (OPOs) will increase the nation’s supply of organs donated for transplantation, but it must be implemented quickly and effectively, Seth Karp, MD, director of the Vanderbilt Transplant Center, testified before Congress on Tuesday, May 4.
“We have a historic opportunity to save more lives through transplantation,” Karp, also Surgeon-in-Chief at Vanderbilt University Medical Center (VUMC), told a subcommittee of the House Oversight and Reform Committee. “The urgency is now and I implore you to act quickly because in transplantation, time matters.”
The virtual hearing was held to consider whether a new rule issued in November by the Centers for Medicare and Medicare Services requiring OPOs to meet stricter performance standards by 2026 should be implemented more quickly.
In addition to Karp, those testifying during the two-hour hearing included two patients in need of kidney transplants, a physician who donated part of her liver to save her son’s life, and officials of a liver disease advocacy organization, an Ohio-based OPO, and the national Association of Organ Procurement Organizations.
“Every hour of every day, on average, a patient will die while waiting for an organ transplant in the United States,” Karp noted. “New technologies already exist to dramatically increase the organ supply (but) we need a system to drive rapid improvement in our system.”
When asked if the number of organ donations would increase if OPOs approached more families of potential donors, Karp answered, “I’m proud to say that Vanderbilt is the largest donor hospital in the country. We have OPO staff on site 24/7, and it makes a huge difference. Everybody wins.”
Karp is the H. William Scott Jr. Professor of Surgery and chair of the Section of Surgical Sciences at VUMC.