Statement from Kevin Longino, CEO of the National Kidney Foundation (NKF) and a transplant recipient, on the signing of the US Organ Procurement and Transplantation Network (OPTN) Act into law
(September 22, 2023 – Washington, DC) – This is a game changer!
The Securing US Organ Procurement and Transplantation Network (OPTN) Act will help improve the transplant system by promoting innovation, transparency, and accountability across the system. It will improve equity and access to transplantation for all Americans. Modernize the technology that matches donors to recipients and create a more efficient system to maximize the number of organs that can be transplanted.
Make no mistake, reforms to the governance of the OPTN will save lives, strengthen accountability, and increase transparency. Provisions in this law will strengthen data collection, reporting and will allow patients to make informed decisions about where and how they receive their care.
Far too many kidney patients do not have access to organ transplantation, either because they are too sick to get a transplant, are uneducated about transplant as an option, or are poorly served by the system that is in place. They often wait 3 – 5 years for a transplant, and in some areas of the country, up to 10 years or longer. For communities of color, the kidney disease journey is fraught with obstacles. African Americans are four times more likely to experience kidney failure, less likely to access options like home dialysis, and are less likely to be approved for a transplant. Organ donation – both deceased donors and living donors – is lower in communities of color, often due to lack of awareness or distrust in the medical system. As a result of these barriers, African American and Hispanic patients wait on average 18-24 months longer for a transplant than White patients.
The National Kidney Foundation is honored to join President Biden at today’s signing ceremony. We’d also like to thank Senators Ron Wyden, Chuck Grassley, Ben Cardin, Todd Young and Bill Cassidy along with Representatives Larry Bucshon and Robin Kelly, for introducing this legislation and securing its unanimous passage in the House and Senate. Their hard work helped make this bill a reality. We look forward to working with the OPTN as it implements these important reforms and to continue to strengthen our nation’s organ procurement and transplantation system as we work toward kidney equity for all.