Special Reports

Steve Jobs Liver Highlights the Problem of US Organ Allocation


Steve Jobs liver is a highlighting pen with the problem of organ allocation even until now. He was one of the world's best geniuses who had a liver transplant. He was a billionaire then and even he had a problem getting an organ donor.

Steve jobs had a liver transplant back in 2009 in Memphis, Tennessee, which is millions of miles away from where he resides in California, ARS Technica reported. It was an odd choice given the fact that he could develop complications due to the long travel, but it's the choice he had to make and it was the fastest way to save his life. Fast forward to today, Steve Jobs liver transplant continues to highlight the big problem in organ transplant in the US.

It's a fact that organ needs outnumber organ supplies. It's what mathematicians and developers are trying to solve with algorithms that aim to make organ allocation fair for all patients. But it's a problem surrounded by ethical issues and ongoing heated debates.

Heart and lungs transplants have to be proceeded quickly. That means whenever a supply turns up, it will immediately be allocated to patients who are nearby. If there's no recipient, the radius will be extended farther.

Kidneys and livers have longer time frame which means anyone from within the 58 donors' hospitals is a viable recipient. A donated organ's quality will be assessed and evaluated thoroughly and an algorithm will find a match for the organ. The sickest patient from the transplant list will be given priority and the algorithm will confirm if the organ will arrive to the patient within the time frame.

A framework called Final Rule lays out the guidelines regarding organ allocation. One of the guidelines is where the patient lives shouldn't have an effect in the likelihood of receiving an organ. But Steve Jobs case tells otherwise.

There's a geographic disparity regarding organ allocation because there are areas that are rich in donors, but lack recipients, while there are high recipients but low in donors. The supply and demand's drastic differences have major implication on the life of a patient.

Recipients who have been predetermined by their scores if they die within the next 90 days if the organ is not transplanted have varied mortality rate. For example, if their scores are higher than others, meaning they will most likely die if they don't get an organ ASAP, will have 85 percent to live if they live in an area near where the donors' organs are. The patient with the same score will have 15 percent to live if he or she lives far away from the donor.

As a result, only the rich and the powerful can have access in organs available in far off places, while those who do not get disenfranchised by the system.

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