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Type O Patients Pose Medical Irony

June 13, 2000

The United Network for Organ Sharing is considering changes in transplant policies for type 0 livers, but not for other organs. The current and proposed policies for livers, and the standing policies for lungs, hearts and kidneys:


Current policy: Prohibits transplanting O livers into patients with other blood types who are the least sick _ those classified as status 2b or 3. Allows transplanting O livers to non-O patients who are the most sick _ those classified as status 1 and 2a.

Proposed policy: Would not change the rules for patients in status 1, 2b or 3. For status 2a _ patients who are sick enough to be in the hospital but do not face imminent death _ O livers would not be transplanted into patients with blood types A or AB. Patients with blood type B, which is quite rare, could still get type O livers.

_Lungs: Type O organs are strictly reserved for type O patients.

_Hearts: Type O organs are directed to type O patients first, but only within the sickness category. So a sicker patient with a different blood type would get a heart before a less-sick O patient.

_Kidneys: Type O organs only go to O patients _ unless there’s a perfect tissue match with someone of another blood type. (Kidneys are the only organs that rely on tissue typing in addition to blood type for placement.)

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