It's Organ Donation Stupid

Part One of a Three-Part Series

In the early 1990's a little known Governor from Arkansas was rising rapidly through his party's ranks to win the Democratic nomination for President of the United States. Upon securing the nomination, the Clinton campaign set about developing myriad strategies and policy positions in the hopes of finding a "winner" issue that would help Clinton unseat the then-incumbent President, George H. W. Bush. After examining many strategies and policy issues, there was one single mantra that political consultant James Carville repeated day after day to the campaign: "It's the economy stupid." This very simple yet effective message struck at the heart of the matter and would go on to be a decisive issue that swept Bill Clinton into the Oval office.

I was reminded of the power of the right simple message while thinking about recent events regarding organ transplantation oversight policies. For the transplant community today, I think that there are new and compelling opportunities to critically reconsider the implications of the message, "it's organ donation stupid." The simple fact remains that supply falls far short of demand. That fact requires the Organ Procurement and Transplantation Network (OPTN) (by federal mandate) to facilitate and oversee our current system and set the public and private "sensitivity dials" on this effort to maximum.

The AST supports the current OPTN system and its policies for organ allocation. However, occasionally particular health issues receive national media attention and challenge the system - most recently, the story of Sarah Murnaghan. In the next post of this inaugural three-part series, I'll discuss the political, legal and ethical considerations around Sarah's specific case and how we, as a go-to resource for transplantation, can take further steps to remedy the issue of organ shortages.

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