I encourage anyone interested in living donor or transplant-related issues to apply to be on an OPTN committee. To learn more about what it means to be an OPTN committee member, here’s the official orientation video and relevant documents:
Full disclosure, I haven’t watched video, but I have perused the pdfs. Notice that ‘living donor safety’ is the fifth out of five goals, and the other four are all about obtaining transplants for recipients.
If you refer to page 14 of the second pdf “presentation handout”, you’ll see an OPTN main goal graphic, depicting how the five goals (those in the first pdf I already mentioned) all further OPTN’s main objective:
Longer Lives For Patients With Organ Failure.
How, exactly, does “promote safety for living donors” fit into that? Well, it doesn’t. And that’s because OPTN was established to create a national system of deceased organ procurement and allocation. It was never meant to deal with living donors and living donation issues. Walter Graham, the Executive Director of UNOS (OPTN’s contractor), asked the Secretary of Health for authority to develop living donation policy so UNOS could profit from living donation in the same way it does from deceased donors. <- which happened in 2006.
The graph at the bottom of page 15 demonstrates clearly why living donors so often lose out – we only garner about 12% of OPTN’s attention and resources. Everything else serves recipients’ needs.
So, I strongly encourage everyone to get involved. When OPTN asks for public comment on proposed policy, give it to them. When you’re able to attend a regional meeting, do so. When a committee spot opens, apply. When you have questions concerning policy and law, don’t be afraid to ask. Contact either/both the OPTN president and/or the HRSA liaison listed on OPTN’s Board of Directors page. Remember: OPTN is a publicly funded entity. It has to answer to us.