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The government's plan to fix a broken organ transplant system? Break it up.

Consultant Surgeon Andrew Ready checks on his patients in the wards of The Queen Elizabeth Hospital Birmingham.
Consultant Surgeon Andrew Ready checks on his patients in the wards of The Queen Elizabeth Hospital Birmingham.

For nearly 40 years, the United Network for Sharing Organs (UNOS) has controlled the organ transplant system.

But that’s about to change. Last week, the government announced plans to completely overhaul the system by breaking up the network’s multi-decade monopoly.

For those who need an organ transplant, the process is far from easy. On average, 17 people die each day awaiting transplants. More than 100,000 people are currently on the transplant waiting list according to the Health Resources and Services Administration. 

UNOS has been criticized for exacerbating the organ shortage. Aninvestigation by the Senate Finance Committee released last year found that the organization lost, discarded, and failed to collect thousands of life-saving organs each year.

Can the government reverse decades of damage by breaking up control? And what does this move mean for those whose lives are on the line?

Copyright 2023 WAMU 88.5

Haili Blassingame