The Board of Directors of the Organ Procurement and Transplantation Network, at a virtual meeting held June 8, approved additional features to be included in a new system for kidney and pancreas allocation. The refinements include:
- A new definition of medical urgency for kidney transplant candidates and additional allocation priority for candidates meeting those criteria
- Procedures for re-allocating organs accepted for a candidate but not transplanted into that candidate
- Allocation of organs from donors located in Alaska, where there are no local transplant programs
The OPTN will implement these provisions late in 2020, along with policies approved in December 2019 to increase equity in transplant access for candidates regardless of where they live or list for a transplant.
“These policy enhancements will address less common circumstances, but ones that may make the difference in ensuring a successful transplant for some candidates and increasing the likelihood that donated organs are transplanted,” said Maryl Johnson, M.D., board president. “They required some additional time for the transplant community and the public to develop and consider.”
COVID-19 operational actions reviewed, will remain in effect
The board reviewed several measures adopted by the OPTN Executive Committee in March and April, 2020, to help members document COVID 19-issues affecting organ donation and transplantation and to help members focus needed resources on essential clinical services. These measures will remain in effect, subject to ongoing Executive Committee review for their applicability and effectiveness. In accordance with OPTN bylaws, these measures will be posted for public comment in the cycle beginning Aug. 4.
The measures, described in greater detail on the COVID-19 resource page of the OPTN website, include:
- Establishment of a collaborative, online forum for member organizations to share insights on operational issues relating to the COVID-19 pandemic
- Adoption of several time-limited changes to data reporting requirements to allow members to focus on data collection most critical to the donation and transplant process
- Establishment of data fields to allow members to document actions relating to COVID-19 affecting potential organ donors and transplant candidates
- Application of time-limited changes to processes of monitoring members for compliance with OPTN requirements
Approval of new board members
The board appointed James Sharrock, J.D. to serve the remainder of the board term of departing Patient and Donor Affairs representative Rosemary Berkery, J.D. The board also appointed William Bry, M.D., to serve a two-year term as Region 5 Councillor beginning July 1, 2020.
The board took additional actions as follows:
- Approved new and renewing OPTN members, new transplant programs and reactivation of previously inactive programs. (A full list of members can be accessed in the Members section of the OPTN website.)
- Approved new chairs of OPTN committees with terms beginning July 1, 2020. (A list of all committees and their members can be accessed in the Committees section of the OPTN website.)
- Accepted amendments to the OPTN bylaws regarding conflicts of interest, including new and updated procedures for addressing potential conflicts
- Approved updates to histocompatibility equivalency tables, as well as a process to update the tables on an expedited basis in the future
- Adopted amendments to National Liver Review Board operational guidelines, as well as updated guidance for review of exception requests for specific medical conditions
- Established a national Heart Review Board for pediatric heart candidates with new operational guidelines, as well as updates to review board guidance to accommodate the new review board
- Adopted updates to transplant outcome data collection for vascularized composite allografts
- Approved policy changes and publication of a guidance document to aid determination of blood typing
- Endorsed charges for the newly formed OPTN Heart Transplantation Committee and Lung Transplantation Committee, which will replace the previous OPTN Thoracic Organ Transplantation Committee on July 1, 2020.
- Heard a presentation from the OPTN Minority Affairs Committee about collecting additional socioeconomic status data on transplant candidates and discussed future options to better measure potential inequities in transplant access.