Myths versus Facts Infographic
The best solution is increased organ donation.

Myths versus facts about liver allocation for transplant.

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Liver Allocation Myths versus Facts

Each year, only half of those waiting for a life-saving transplant receive one.

The Solution: Increase Organ Donation

Myth  Flying livers across the country will save more lives.

Fact With a finite supply of donor organs, flying livers ultimately only changes the geography of where people die. 
  • Each year 12,000 people wait for a life-saving liver transplant and only 6,000 get one.
  • The solution is to increase organ donation.

Learn more: Liver transplant stories told by grateful recipients, donor families, physicians and experts.

Myth Liver transplant patients living in regions with the highest organ donation rate can safely wait longer for a transplant and share their organ supply with others living in the lowest organ donor regions.

Fact Patients on a waiting list for liver transplant are given a MELD score (medical severity) typically from 6 to 40. The longer any patient on the list waits, the greater the risk.
  • The higher the MELD score… the sicker the patient. 
  • People at every MELD score are very sick and at risk of dying. 
  • Any patient with a MELD greater than 15 has a risk of dying that is greater than the risk of a transplant.
  • The solution is to increase organ donation.

Myth Wait time mortality is higher in regions with the lowest organ donation rates.

Fact The number of people who die waiting for a liver transplant is nearly the same across the nation. For example:
  • Presbyterian Hospital, Columbia New York: 12%
  • UCLA: 13% 
  • The University of Kansas Hospital: 17% 
However, the number of liver transplants and people alive one year post transplant is higher in regions with highest organ donation rates. 
  • The solution is to increase organ donation.

Myth Regions with the highest organ donation don’t want to share with other regions.

Fact Organ sharing across the nation is already happening when a match can’t be found regionally.
  • Last year, the Midwest Transplant Network organ procurement organization shared 52% of their total donated organs with other regions and 34% of all their livers. 
  • The solution is to increase organ donation.

Myth Flying livers around the country is safe in this day and age of jet planes and medical equipment.

Fact The longer a donor liver remains on ice or attached to special organ preserving medical equipment, the greater the risk of transplant failure.
  • Additionally, broader sharing will result in lower risk organs being selected for travel and high risk organs staying local.  
  • The solution is to increase organ donation. 

Myth Flying organs from the highest donor regions to the lowest donor regions is cost effective. 

Fact Flying organs across the country is already very expensive.
  • The proposed UNOS change under consideration will likely add $5000 per transplant more, or an estimated $30 million more annually to liver transplantation costs. 
  • Additionally, the sicker a patient becomes… the higher their medical costs. 
  • Healthcare costs that are typically paid by Medicare/Medicaid as patients with a MELD score often lose private insurance when they can no longer work. 
  • The solution is to increase organ donation.

Myth Regions with the lowest donation rate say people in their communities won’t donate and they don’t have time to try and build programs.

Fact Regions with the lowest donation rates are not implementing the best practices in use by regions with the highest donation rates.
  • Best practices include coordinated efforts to increase donor awareness by DMVs, state agencies, hospital associations, hospitals, transplant centers, eye banks, the OPO and organizations like Gift of Life .
  •  Once donors are informed, it takes only minutes to register and save lives.   
  • The solution is to increase organ donation.

Myth All organ donor awareness education campaigns are created equal, the problem is some people just don’t want to be organ donors.

Fact It takes more than curriculum or a one hour class on organ donation to increase donor registration and more importantly the number of donor livers.  
  • The most successful regions start in the high schools
    • Students are required to talk over their decision to donate with family members who often join them in signing up. 
  • Increasing organ donation rates requires:
    • Registering to become an organ donor
    • Family support at the time of donation 
    • Advocating: asking others to donate to grow the organ donor supply
  • Each organ donor can help up to fifty patients waiting for organs and tissue.
  • The solution is to increase organ donation  

Myth All a  person has to do to become an organ donor is sign their driver’s license or register to be a donor.

Fact Laws vary from state to state.
  • In most states, the Uniform Anatomical Gift Act recognizes first person authorization that cannot be revoked by others after their death.  
  • Some states require next of kin confirmation before procuring organs.  
  • A few states, like Montana, have opt-out laws which assume everyone is an organ donor unless they opt-out.  
  • The solution is to increase organ donation.

Myth  Alcoholism is the number one reason for a liver transplant.

Fact Fatty Liver Disease is the leading cause of liver transplant over Hepatitis C and alcohol.
  • Non-Alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease (NAFLD) 
    The America Liver Foundation in July, declared NAFLD a public health threat.  
    • NAFLD affects 25% of the population
    • More than 30 million Americans are at risk for NAFLD 
    • Most of those don’t know they are at risk
  • Fatty livers impact both supply and demand in organ donation. 
  • The solution is to increase organ donation.