Finding a place for public preferences in liver allocation decisions.
Over the last decade there have been major advances in all aspects of liver transplantation with the consequence that the number of patients who could benefit from the procedure is increasing. As a result, the number of patients listed for liver transplantation is growing while the donor pool is remaining constant or even falling. The effect of this donor shortage is seen clearly both in Europe and in North America. For example, in North America data from UNOS shows that between 1988 and 1997 the number of cadaveric donor liver transplants rose from 1,713 to 4,100. The number of patients waiting for transplant rose over the same time from 616 to 9,647. This shortage of organs has tragic consequences. Although the proportion of patients dying on the waiting list is falling, the number of patients dying on the liver transplant waiting list increased from 196 to 1,129 over this same period of time.
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