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National organ transplant waiting list as of November 9, 2021
Number of Americans projected to die before an OPO loses its contract
Average reported CEO compensation for failing OPOs
On May 4, 2021, the House Oversight Committee held a bipartisan hearing about OPO performance failures as well as fraud, waste and abuse. Rep. Katie Porter grilled the CEO of the Association of Organ Procurement Organizations about anti-patient lobbying and a whistleblower account regarding an OPO executive who used the OPO’s private jet for vacation instead of organ recovery.
He survived Covid-19, but his lungs were ravaged. After months of deep sedation, he is delirious, his muscles atrophied. And this 61-year-old still cannot breathe on his own.
The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) recently finalized reforms targeted at the government contractors that run the organ donation system.
Some OPOs have transferred millions of dollars to foundations they’ve established, which have paid for such things as jets, parties and parade floats, the groups’ Internal Revenue Service records show.
In the more than 35 years since federal legislation created OPOs to recover organs from deceased donors for transplantation, there has been a disparity in their performance, with the best OPOs recovering organs from four times as many donors as the worst OPOs by objective criteria.
“This industry’s attempts to block efforts to implement metrics to hold OPOs accountable for their poor performance only further underscores the need for oversight.”
Even before the new laws passed, coroners rarely said no when companies asked to procure hearts, kidneys or other vital organs. But coroners often rejected requests to harvest tissues such as skin and bone when they thought it would upend a death investigation.
After the blood type of a South Carolina organ donor was incorrectly identified, a man in Charleston who’d received the donor’s lungs died and another patient in Tennessee who received the liver was gravely injured.
Organ procurement organizations (OPOs) have been exploiting taxpayers for decades -- NHL and NFL season tickets, board meetings in California wine country, private jets chartered for organ delivery but hijacked for CEO jaunts -- all while failing to do what they're supposed to do: procure organs for needy patients.
Every major patient group engaged on this issue — including the Global Liver Institute, National Kidney Foundation, American Society of Nephrology, the Boomer Esiason Foundation, Organize, and families directly affected by the organ shortage, as well as advocacy groups ranging from Families USA to FreedomWorks — have universally supported HHS’s new OPO metrics.