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America’s deadly failure on organ donations

In June 2014, while my son was asleep on an operating table

I laid down to serve as his living organ donor. A surgeon removed a third of my liver and implanted it in his 2-year-old body, replacing his diseased organ with mine.

Living organ donation is a remarkable opportunity. It is also massively expensive. Healthy donors become patients themselves. They must take time off of work (often unpaid) and make sure that their other responsibilities are covered. While these barriers didn’t prevent our family, for many others they do.

Thanks to new rules proposed by Team Trump last month, the feds will help living donors by covering expenses such as lost wages, child care and elder care. As Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar ­recently said, “When an American wishes to become a living donor, we don’t believe their financial situation should limit their generosity.” Amen.

But we also have to make sure our nation’s deceased-donor system is working, too. Not everyone has access to a living donor. Organ donation is overwhelmingly popular, with 95 percent of Americans supporting deceased-organ donation. Even so, every year, 28,000 potential organs go to waste.

Proposed federal rules changes could help.

These losses result from failures of government monopoly contractors called Organ Procurement Organizations, or OPOs. OPOs are responsible for showing up at the hospital to coordinate with next of kin and then managing logistics of transporting organs to transplant centers.

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