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Will the Government Lose Its Say in Organ Transplant Distribution?

WASHINGTON, D.C.-The House of Representatives passed legislation this week by a 275-147 vote that would remove the government's authority to regulate organ-transplant policy. Sponsored by Rep. Michael Bilirakis (R., Fla.), the bill gives that authority to transplant centers and the United Network for Organ Sharing (UNOS). UNOS is a private, not-for-profit, membership corporation that maintains the Organ Procurement and Transplantation Network as well as the US Scientific Registry on Organ Transplantation under contract with the US Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). The bill was a response to a new regulation the HHS created to try and disperse organs equally across the country. The current distribution system offers organs to patients within the originating region before being offered nationally. Opponents say that method is unfair because the most critically ill patient will not necessarily receive the transplant. As of April 2, 2000, the UNOS national patient waiting list showed 68,805 patients awaiting organ transplants.

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