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New Maps Could Change Liver Transplants In Arizona, Across Country

The system of liver transplants in the U.S. could be changing.

The United Network for Organ Sharing, or UNOS, is working on new maps and guidelines that aim to make that system fairer and more equitable across the country.

Dr. Ryutaro Hirose is leading that effort. He’s a transplant surgeon at UC San Francisco, and Chair of the UNOS Liver Intestinal Organ Transplant Committee, which is charged with writing allocation and distribution policies for liver transplants.

"The place that you live in and where you register for transplant largely determines, once you're on a wait list, whether you're going to get a liver pretty soon or when you're not so sick, versus in another part of the country where you have to get much sicker," Hirose said.

The current proposal is up for public comment for another few weeks, although Hirose’s not sure when any new maps or guidelines would take effect.

Any changes would presumably have impacts across the country, and here in Arizona.

With KJZZ's The Show to talk about that is Dr. Winston Hewitt, a transplant surgeon at the Mayo Clinic and Phoenix Children’s Hospital. 

Mark Brodie is a co-host of The Show, KJZZ’s locally produced news magazine. Since starting at KJZZ in 2002, Brodie has been a host, reporter and producer, including several years covering the Arizona Legislature, based at the Capitol.