Area Pastors Join the Fight to Preserve Memphis' Access to Organs for Transplant

Published On 05/17/2012

The fight to keep Mid-South transplant patients’ access to life-saving organs gained support from clergy throughout Memphis today.  Pastors from across the city and county packed the Medical Staff Auditorium at Methodist University Hospital to learn more about the UT/Methodist Transplant Institute’s battle to retain access to organs.

Currently, the Methodist Transplant Institute has access to a pool of 7.5 million organs, which are obtained from two organ procurement organizations (OPOs).  One OPO (Mid-South Transplant Foundation) gets organs from 2 million people and serves West Tennessee.  A larger OPO (Tennessee Donor Services) pulls from a population of 5.5 million and serves primarily middle and east Tennessee.

Recent changes to federal regulations mean that at the end of this year, Methodist will only be able to obtain organs from the smaller OPO (MSTF).  That would drastically reduce the number of organs available for patients in West Tennessee. Methodist has applied for a waiver with the federal government, asking to align with Tennessee Donor Services rather than Mid-South Transplant Foundation, which would preserve access to a larger pool of organs.

Area ministers in attendance were in full support of the waiver and plan to write letters of support and talk to their congregations about getting involved.  Warner Dickerson, head of the Memphis Chapter of the NAACP was present and spoke about the situation.

“This is definitely going to have an adverse effect disproportionately to African Americans,” he said. “More organs will go to East Tennessee.”  60% of Methodist’s kidney transplant patients are African-American, James Eason, Director of the UT/Methodist Transplant Institute, told the crowd.

To support Methodist’s waiver application and prevent Memphis from losing access to organs, visit