By the Numbers: The Impact of Organ Sharing Changes on Memphis Transplant Patients

Published On 06/10/2012

If new regulations on organ-sharing in Tennessee take effect in 2013, the Methodist Transplant Institute will be required to align with the Mid-South Transplant Foundation (MSTF), one of two Organ Procurement Organizations (OPOs) in Tennessee.  Transplant centers in middle and east Tennessee will be aligned with the other OPO, Tennessee Donor Services (TDS).  This will result in a significant decrease in organs available to Mid-South transplant patients.  Here's why.

Donor Service Areas

Here's the breakdown of where organs recovered in Tennessee in 2011 came from.

Tennessee organ donor service areas

260 - The number of transplants performed by the Methodist Transplant Institute
62 - The number of donors with organs recovered by the Mid-South Transplant Foundation (red shaded area)
220 - The number of donors with organs recovered by Tennessee Donor Services (blue shaded area)

MSTF's service area is simply too small to serve all the patients in our community who need transplants.  This is why Methodist is advocating for MSTF to merge with TDS, creating a single OPO for the state of Tennessee.  This would not be an unusual situation: in fact, it would just be catching up to the rest of the country.  There are only 58 OPOs in the United States, which means that most states share organs using a single OPO.

The Mid-South Transplant Foundation is the fifth-smallest OPO in the country by volume.  The Methodist Transplant Institute currently has the fourth-largest liver transplant program in the country.  The scope of the Methodist program simply cannot be sustained if our access to organs is so drastically reduced.

Favor the Waiver

The Mid-South Transplant Foundation has expressed unwillingness to merge with Tennessee Donor Services, even though TDS is open to a merger.  While we at Methodist believe that a merger is the best solution for patients throughout the state, our only other option is to align directly with TDS.  This would retain access to about 75% of the organs currently being distributed in Tennessee, rather than restricting access to only 25% if we aligned with MSTF.

The Methodist Transplant Institute has applied for a waiver with the Centers for Medicare/Medicaid Services asking to align with TDS.  Public support plays a huge role in whether that waiver application will be granted, so we need your help!  Make your comment online before June 25.  

Want to learn more?  Visit to see facts vs. fiction, find sample letters of support, and learn more about why these changes are taking place.