Organ distribution without geographic boundaries: A possible framework for organ allocation

Am J Transplant. 2018 Nov;18(11):2635-2640. doi: 10.1111/ajt.15115. Epub 2018 Sep 29.


The Final Rule mandates that organ allocation not be based on the transplant candidate's place of residence or listing, except as required by sound medical judgment and best use of donated organs, to avoid wasting organs and futile transplants, and to promote access and efficiency. Current Organ Procurement and Transplantation Network (OPTN) policies use donation service areas and OPTN regions to distribute and allocate organs for transplant. These policies have recently been called into question as not meeting the requirements of the Final Rule. Therefore, we propose using borderless allocation scores that combine medical priority scores with geographic feasibility scores. Medical priority scores are currently used in OPTN allocation policy, for example, the model for end-stage liver disease and the lung allocation score. Geographic feasibility scores can be developed to account for the effects of ischemia due to travel times, donor characteristics that modify the feasibility of traveling due to organ outcomes, and the costs of shipping organs over long distances. A borderless distribution and allocation system could address the goals of equity and utility, while fulfilling the mandates of the Final Rule and providing optimal use of a scare resource.

Keywords: Organ Procurement and Transplantation Network (OPTN); Scientific Registry for Transplant Recipients (SRTR); editorial/personal viewpoint; organ procurement and allocation.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Geography
  • Humans
  • Organ Transplantation / legislation & jurisprudence*
  • Resource Allocation / legislation & jurisprudence*
  • Resource Allocation / standards*
  • Tissue Donors / legislation & jurisprudence*
  • Tissue and Organ Procurement / legislation & jurisprudence*
  • Waiting Lists*