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hiArt of the SCAR piece, Haden Hopkins, Avery Bullock

The Art of the SCAR: Redux

The Art of the SCAR: Redux

Friday, July 10, 2020, United Network for Organ Sharing held its first ever virtual gallery opening for the Art of the SCAR exhibition, an exhibit that debuted in February 2014.

A scar is seen by many as ugly and something to be concealed. For transplant recipients a scar is a mark of beauty and of life. It’s a badge of honor.

In February of 2014, 15 transplant recipients and living donors teamed up with 30 high school photography club students to show off their scars. The unique project resulted in a multi media exhibition called Art of the SCAR. After 6 years as a travelling exhibit, we are excited to redux the show where it originally premiered. This time we will hold the opening reception in a virtual format.

What hasn’t changed, our gratefulness to all the original participants including transplant recipients, living donors and the Clover Hill High School Photography Club.

Watch the recorded virtual gallery opening here. See the photos from this exhibit and read about past exhibits at The Gallery at UNOS.


New national liver and intestinal organ transplant system in effect Feb. 4, 2020

The Organ Procurement and Transplantation Network (OPTN) has implemented a new liver and intestinal organ distribution system to improve the process of matching lifesaving organs to candidates in greatest need of them. This new policy will save more lives annually by providing more transplant access for the most urgent candidates. It also is expected to increase the number of pediatric liver transplants, making this a national policy that will work more efficiently and fairly for patients across the entire country.

The new system replaces the use of decades-old geographic boundaries of 58 donation service areas (DSAs) and 11 transplant regions. It emphasizes the medical urgency of liver transplant candidates and the distance between the donor hospital and transplant hospitals.

Livers from all deceased donors will first be offered to the most urgent liver transplant candidates (Status 1A and 1B) listed at transplant hospitals within a radius of 500 nautical miles of the donor hospital. Following offers to the most urgent candidates, livers from adult donors will be offered to candidates at hospitals within distances of 150, 250 and 500 nautical miles of the donor hospital. These offers are grouped by medical urgency.

The OPTN Board of Directors approved the policy in December 2018. It was implemented briefly in May 2019, then reverted to the prior system of DSAs and regions while a federal court considered a legal challenge to the new system. A court ruling issued Jan. 16, 2020, allowed the re-implementation to proceed.

Statistical modeling of the new policy projects that it will save more lives, with fewer patients dying while waiting for a liver transplant. It also makes the system fairer by providing more equitable access to a transplant based on medical need for the benefit of all patients. The policy also is expected to increase the number of liver transplants for children under the age of 18 by increasing their priority for organs from donors who are also younger than 18. The benefits of the system are projected to have similar effects across various socioeconomic groups and population types, such as urban, rural and suburban.

The policy was developed by transplant and donation experts, recipients and donor families from around the country, with consideration of more than 1,200 public comments.

The new policy takes effect at a time of sustained increase in organ donation and transplantation in the United States. Nearly 40,000 total transplants were performed nationwide in 2019, setting an annual record for the seventh year in a row. Of that total, 8,372 liver transplants were performed involving deceased donors, an increase of 6.7 percent over the 2018 total.

Find all liver policy updates here.


Transplant patient webinar addresses proposed changes to kidney and pancreas distribution

Public comment encouraged

Transplant candidates, recipients and their families have a unique perspective on national organ transplant policy. UNOS, in its role as the national Organ Procurement and Transplantation Committee (OPTN), encourages all who are interested to read and offer public comment on proposed policies.

Two proposals currently out for public comment seek to eliminate geographic boundaries currently used in kidney and pancreas allocation. The proposed policies would replace local donation service area (DSA) and regional boundaries with a 500 nautical mile circle around the donor hospital. After the organ is offered to all eligible candidates listed inside the 500 nautical mile circle, it would then be offered to eligible candidates beyond 500 nautical miles.

The OPTN Kidney and Pancreas Transplantation Committees will host a webinar on Monday, September 16, 2019, from 4 to 5 p.m. EDT to describe the proposals for transplant patients and family members and encourage them to comment on the proposals. You may register for the webinar here

As time permits, presenters will answer questions from participants. The webinar will also be recorded, and a link to the recording will be posted as soon as available.


Heart recipient honored with 2019 NDM Award for Excellence

Heart recipient honored with 2019 NDM Award for Excellence

United Network for Organ Sharing (UNOS) named James “Jim” Gleason of Beverly, NJ, the winner of its 2019 National Donor Memorial Award for Excellence in recognition of his untiring efforts as a donation advocate.

Jim’s volunteer journey began 25 years ago when he received a heart transplant. From that moment in October of 1994, Jim Gleason has been an unwavering advocate for organ donation and transplantation. Soon after his transplant, Jim began visiting transplant patients, sharing his story with others, and writing newsletters.

Since that time, Jim has given more than 500 talks from coast to coast. He has also provided support to transplant candidates and recipients, represented the voice of patients in organ policy development, shared his experience with transplant professionals and volunteered and raised money for non-profit organizations.

“Jim’s level of commitment to promoting donation and helping other transplant patients is unparalleled” said UNOS President Sue Dunn. “He has been a tireless advocate for more than two decades and continues to play a vital role within the donation and transplantation community.”

UNOS established the National Donor Memorial Award for Excellence in 2010 to recognize exceptional advocates who promote organ donation and transplantation. UNOS solicits nominations for the award from the organ procurement organizations and transplant centers in the United States.

Jim was nominated by Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania. Previous winners have been donor family members, a social worker/donation advocate, a liver recipient, and the recipient family members.

UNOS unites and strengthens the donation and transplant community to save lives.

UNOS is a non-profit, charitable organization that serves as the nation’s Organ Procurement and Transplantation Network (OPTN) under contract with the federal government. The OPTN helps create and define organ allocation and distribution policies that make the best use of donated organs. This process involves continuously evaluating new advances and discoveries so policies can be adapted to best serve patients waiting for transplants. All transplant programs and organ procurement organizations throughout the country are OPTN members and are obligated to follow the policies the OPTN creates for allocating organs.

Headquartered in Richmond, Va., UNOS is also home to the National Donor Memorial, which honors the life-giving impact of organ and tissue donation.

Learn more about the National Donor Memorial


NRLB update: MMaT calculation now based on DSA of transplant hospital

Effective May 24, 2019, at 10:15 p.m. EDT, the median MELD at transplant (MMaT) scores for liver candidates with exception scores are now based on recent liver transplants performed at liver transplant hospitals within the donation service area (DSA) where the candidates are listed.

When the National Liver Review Board (NLRB) was implemented on May 14, 2019, at the same time as the acuity circles distribution model, the basis of the MMaT calculation was recent transplants at all liver transplant hospitals included in a 250 nautical mile radius of the hospital listing the exception candidate. With the reversion to a donation service area (DSA) and region-based liver allocation system effective May 23, some DSAs had different MMaT scores among liver programs within their area. This in turn could create disparities affecting candidates’ transplant access within the local DSA of the donor.

The OPTN Executive Committee, by teleconference May 24, unanimously approved basing the MMaT calculation on DSA to address unintended consequences of the reversion to DSA-based liver allocation.

The conversion has been made within UNetSM for all liver transplant candidates who had an exception score based on MMaT within a 250 nautical mile radius. Please refer to this table for the MMaT score for each liver transplant program based on DSA. If you wish to compare it to the MMaT based on 250 nautical mile circles, this table lists the previous scores.

Many individual candidates’ MMaT will remain the same under the conversion as it was under the previous calculation. Other candidates will have their exception scores either increase or decrease.

You may apply to UNOS to have a candidate’s waiting time adjusted only if the candidate experiences an increase in their MELD exception score as a result of this action. The waiting time adjustment will include time the candidate had at a lower exception score from the May 14 initiation of NLRB up until this action. To request a waiting time adjustment for a candidate, please submit a Waiting Time Modification form. These forms are located in UNetSM; navigate to the WaitListSM, then on the top menu select “Resources”, then select “Forms/Tools.”
Median PELD at Transplant (MPaT) is unaffected by this action. MPaT is the same for all transplant programs with PELD exception candidates and will remain at 35.

As always, transplant programs may request individual exception scores for candidates by the procedure set forth in OPTN Policy 9.4 (MELD or PELD Score Exceptions).

If you have questions about data or information systems, contact UNOS Customer Service at 800-978-4334. For policy-related questions, send an e-mail to or call 844-395-4428.


Liver policy reverted to DSA and regions

OPTN Policy 9 (Allocation of Livers and Liver-Intestines) has reverted to use of the donation service area (DSA) and regional distribution boundaries in effect prior to May 14, 2019. This action complies with a federal court order dated May 17, 2019.

The National Liver Review Board (NLRB) remains in effect. Candidates’ currently assigned exception scores did not change. As always, transplant programs may request individual exception scores for candidates by the procedure set forth in OPTN Policy 9.4 (MELD or PELD Score Exceptions).

The updated liver allocation policy is available in the Policies section of the OPTN website.
Online help documentation covering UNetSM functionality is also available.

Additional information relating to liver policy developments may be found here and will be further updated as needed.

Questions? If you have questions about data or information systems, contact UNOS Customer Service at 800-978-4334. For policy-related questions, send an e-mail to or call 844-395-4428.

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