70 Deaths, Many Wasted Organs Are Blamed on Transplant System Errors
A report from the U.S. Senate Finance Committee found that mistakes in transplant organ screenings resulted in 70 deaths and 249 people developing diseases. The report, based on a two-and-a-half-year investigation and reviews of thousands of pages of subpoenaed documents, details widespread deficiencies in the U.S. organ transplant system. The investigators cited errors related to mix-ups in blood-type matching and the failure to detect diseases, including cancer and bacterial infections, in donor organs. Also documented were instances of blood and urine tests that were not completed prior to transplant surgeries; the accidental disposal of two healthy kidneys in Indiana in 2020; donor organs that were lost during transit, resulting in canceled surgeries and discarded organs; and the removal of organs that already had been transplanted. The report looked at 1,118 complaints filed from 2010 to 2020 with the United Network for Organ Sharing (UNOS), which oversees the U.S. organ transplant system. Although the deaths and illnesses studied from 2008 to mid-2015 accounted for a small number of the 174,338 organs transplanted over that period, the committee said, "This data illustrates the lethality of diseases contracted during a transplantation and the need for exacting scrutiny of such transmissions." Among other things, the report cited lax oversight of organ procurement organizations by the UNOS. The committee recommended that the government create competition for UNOS; award a separate contract for the transplant system's technology; increase "transparency and accountability for chain of custody and transportation of organs"; and increase accountability for lost, damaged, and delayed organs.
Read more on The Washington Post.