Global Liver Institute Thanks President Biden for Signing the Securing the U.S. Organ Procurement and Transplantation Network Act into Law
Washington, DC, September 27, 2023 – On Friday, September 22, 2023 President Joseph Biden signed the Securing the U.S. Organ Procurement and Transplantation Network (OPTN) Act into law – which was previously passed by Congress in July. The bipartisan Act’s passage follows years of investigation led by Senators Wyden, Grassley, Young, Warren and others on the Senate Finance Committee. Global Liver Institute (GLI) expresses its sincere appreciation for this leadership from Congress and for the President’s commitment to saving lives by improving accountability and transparency in the OPTN, the nation’s organ donation system.
Once this legislation takes effect, it will break up the monopoly that the United Network for Organ Sharing (UNOS) holds over the OPTN to allow for innovation and competition while also enhancing accountability and transparency in the national system.
From left to right: Greg Segal, Organize; Donna R. Cryer, JD, Global Liver Institute; HHS Secretary Xavier Becerra; Senator Ron Wyden (OR); President Joseph Biden; Congresswoman Robin Kelly (IL); Director Carole Johnson, HRSA; Kevin Longino, National Kidney Foundation.
GLI Founder and CEO Donna R. Cryer, JD, attended the signing of the bill. She was joined by several partners whose hard work in patient advocacy enabled this moment: Greg Segal, Founder and CEO of Organize, and Kevin Longino, CEO of the National Kidney Foundation. This honor underscores the fact that both Mrs. Cryer and Global Liver Institute have strongly supported this reform as essential to responsible utilization of donor organs and critical to achieving equity and efficiency in transplantation:
In August 2020, GLI urged bipartisan effort to reform OPOs.
On May 4, 2021, Mrs. Cryer testified before the U.S. House of Representatives Subcommittee on Economic and Consumer Policy and called for reform of the inequitable transplantation system and OPOs that have historically mismanaged organ donations and underperformed without consequence.
In March of this year, GLI commended the Health Resources & Services Administration (HRSA) for launching its OPTN Modernization Initiative in April.
In April 2023, Mrs. Cryer and others authored an article in strong support of HRSA’s announcement to reform the OPTN.
This May, GLI urged our community to share their support for the Securing the U.S. Organ Procurement and Transplantation Network Act and contact their legislators.
On July 20, 2023, Donna R. Cryer, JD, testified before the U.S. Senate Finance Committee about the failures of the U.S. organ procurement system, described as devastating, leaving in its wake needless death and breathtaking inequity. Everyone testifying communicated that the fault lies squarely with UNOS and many of the nation’s organ procurement organizations (OPOs) which UNOS oversees. During her testimony, Mrs. Cryer urged the Senate to pass this legislation.
GLI has in countless other ways supported donors and recipients of organ transplants and advocated for legislation that will benefit these groups.
This track record of support is driven by an extended history of concern of mismanagement and irresponsibility by UNOS of the national transplantation system.
- A bipartisan Senate report, released in 2022, found that the network is failing to provide adequate oversight to OPOs, which decreases the organs available and risks patient safety. It also revealed that UNOS risks system interruption because it lacks the technical expertise to modernize the OPTN IT system.
- A recent data analysis by The Washington Post and the Markup found that a 2020 rule implemented to allocate donated livers had disadvantaged patients and reduced access to transplantation in Puerto Rico, the Midwest, and the South – with disadvantaged areas becoming even more disadvantaged after aggressive promotion from wealthier states.
- A subsequent article from the Post disclosed that many organs have been discarded, damaged in transit, or simply not collected under the existing system and pointed to limited consequences for poor-performing OPOs after HRSA announced its plan to overhaul the OPTN.
Though this is a major step forward for transplantation, there is still work to be done to fully implement the Securing the U.S. Organ Procurement and Transplantation Network Act. Still ahead is securing the necessary appropriations, executing and enforcing the changes specified, and utilizing new changes to improve quality, technology, data standards, and equality. GLI will continue to hold the system accountable to improve equitable access to the transplant list and higher numbers of transplants in every region of the country, with longer, healthier survivorship.
About Global Liver Institute
Global Liver Institute (GLI) is a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization founded in the belief that liver health must take its place on the global public health agenda commensurate with the prevalence and impact of liver illness. GLI promotes innovation, encourages collaboration, and supports the scaling of optimal approaches to help eradicate liver diseases. Operating globally, GLI is committed to solving the problems that matter to liver patients and equipping advocates to improve the lives of individuals and families impacted by liver disease. Follow GLI on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, and YouTube.