Methodist Hospital officials fear for transplant patients after waiver discontinued

Methodist Hospital officials fear for transplant patients after waiver discontinued
(WMC-TV) - Patients in the transplant unit at Methodist University Hospital may wait longer and may get sicker waiting on an organ that could save their life.

"I was that status 1A - that person who is going to die within a week, and that one organ came to me," said organ recipient Erskine Gillespie.

Gillespie is alive today thanks to a liver transplant 18 years ago.

But officials at Methodist University Hospital fear patients like him may die after a controversial transplant waiver was denied. 

"Memphians are just a little sicker than others in the state, so the demand is greater," said Methodist University Hospital CEO Kevin Spiegel.

Spiegel said it all started six months ago when a waiver was granted allowing Methodist to use both the Mid-South Transplant Foundation and Tennessee Donor Services as places to obtain livers for transplant.

Now, that waiver has been discontinued.

Methodist officials fear many transplant patients will suffer because the pool of organs to choose from is now smaller.

"Donor Services does a great job as does Mid South Transplant. It's the national system of how our organs are divided," said Spiegel.

Kim Van Frank is the director of Mid-South Transplant Foundation.

Her organization will now be the sole provider of organs to transplant patients in the Mid-South.

"It basically creates a system that provides to patients that are the sickest," said Van Frank.

She said Mid-South Transplant is committed to making it's relationship with Methodist stronger in an effort to save more lives in Memphis and the Mid-South. 

Officials at Methodist University Hospital and the Mid South Transplant Foundation both agree that organ donations should increase here in the Mid-South.  

They said it's as easy as signing the back of your drivers license.
Copyright 2012 WMC-TV. All rights reserved.