Help the Transplant Institute Continue Saving Lives

Published On 04/30/2012

Let your voice be heard.
Help us continue to save lives.

Nearly 8,000 patients have received life-saving transplants at the Methodist University Hospital Transplant Institute and Le Bonheur Children's Hospital to date, with a record number of transplants in 2011.  But that number could severely decrease in 2013 due to new organ access rules set to take effect at the end of this year. 

Currently, the Transplant Institute has access to a population of 7.5 million potential organ donors across Tennessee.  This number is drawn from two Organ Procurement Organizations (OPOs), one with a pool of 2 million donors, and one with a pool of 5.5 million donors.  The new rules would restrict Memphis’ access to a single OPO, decreasing our available organs to a pool of 2 million.  That’s almost 75% fewer organs available to patients in Memphis and the Mid-South.  The rest of Tennessee will benefit from Memphis’ loss of access, obtaining organs from the remaining pool of 5.5 million donors.   

What does this mean for patients in Memphis who need organ transplants?

  • Wait times for organs will increase dramatically.
  • Patients’ likelihood of death while waiting for an organ will also increase.
  • Minorities will be disproportionately affected.  Methodist’s transplant program reflects the diversity of our city, and the Transplant Institute serves many more minorities than any other program in Tennessee.

How You Can Help
Your support in preventing this change and helping us to continue saving lives is absolutely critical.  The Methodist Transplant Institute has applied for an OPO Waiver with the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) to prevent the changes from taking effect at the end of this year.  The community’s voice is weighed heavily in CMS’ decision, so we need to flood CMS with letters of support for this waiver

Your comments do make a difference.  You can make your voice heard in one of two ways:

Participate in the Online Comment Process
Add your remarks to the official online comment page by clicking here.

Send a Letter to CMS
Support Methodist's OPO Waiver by sending a letter to CMS at the address below. 

Jonathan Blum, Deputy Administrator
Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services
Department of Health and Human Services
Attention CMS-1444-NC
PO Box 8010
Baltimore, MD 21244-1850

Please share your comments as soon as possible—you only have until June 25, 2012 to submit your comments to CMS. Please only participate through one channel, as only one comment per person is allowed.  Encourage your friends and family to add their voices of support as well. 

Sample Comments and Letters
You may use the text provided below as-is just by adding your signature, or feel free to personalize your remarks. 

Sample Letter from a Citizen
Sample Letter from Current Patient
Sample Letter from Transplant Survivor
Sample Letter from a Family Member  

One Family Member's Story
Sharon King shares the letter she wrote supporting the OPO waiver. 

FILE:  CMS-1444-NC
I am an associate with Methodist Le Bonheur Healthcare. Our transplant program, University of Tennessee (UT) / Methodist Transplant Institute, recently submitted an OPO Waiver to designate Tennessee Donor Services as their “primary” OPO. 

I am sending my comments to entreat you to let our program which has been highly successful to continue as always to have access to organs throughout the Great State of Tennessee where I was born. If you fail to support our access to these organs, I am afraid that a great many men, women and children will die, among them my son. The transplant program here does not make any difference between race, sex, age, or rural area.  I have witnessed this first hand while waiting for my son to receive a transplant and have personally talked to a great many people that received transplants. In addition, at Le Bonheur Children’s Hospital we have the only children’s liver transplant program in Tennessee, Arkansas, and Mississippi.   With the Waiver, the entire patient population of the Mid-South will have broader and more equal access to transplantation including my family.  I am begging you as a mother and a donor to please give your full support to  UT / Methodist OPO Waiver application for Tennessee Donor Services to be their designated OPO.  

Additionally, I would like to add that I gave my son a kidney but it failed and through this program he received another kidney and is doing great.  If this kidney could not be secured as it was, he would have died waiting for one.  Please, Please, Please support this. 

Sharon King