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American Society of Transplantation's Past President Testifies Before Congress at Forum on Organ Donation
Date:9/25/2007

WASHINGTON, Sept. 25 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- American Society of Transplantation (AST) Past President Jeffrey S. Crippin, MD, testified before the U.S. House of Representatives' Information, Policy, Census and National Archives Subcommittee of the Oversight and Government Reform Committee today, urging the subcommittee to use public policy and technology to strengthen the nation's organ donor programs.

According to Dr. Crippin, over 97,000 individuals are awaiting a life-saving donor organ. Between January and June of this year, about 14,000 transplants were performed in the U.S. with 11,083 deceased-donor organs and 3,200 living-donor organs. With such a shortage of available organs, "protecting a patient's life-saving donor organ is critical," Dr. Crippin said. Optimal care is essential to ensure the long-term survival of an organ recipient.

For many patients, one of the greatest barriers at each stage of the organ transplantation process is the lack of insurance coverage, which can extend from the time the patient is placed on the waiting list until after the transplant. For many years, the federal government paid for the organ transplant but only for 36 months of immunosuppressive drug treatment. This policy resulted in patients losing the transplanted organ, returning to dialysis, or losing their lives.

Dr. Crippin asked the subcommittee to support the "Comprehensive Immunosuppressive Drug Coverage for Kidney Transplant Patients Act of 2007," bipartisan legislation (H.R. 3282) introduced by U.S. Rep. Dave Camp (R-MI) in August to cover gaps in Medicare coverage for immunosuppressive drugs.

According to Dr. Crippin, coverage for immunosuppressive drugs is just one of four initiatives that the AST supports to protect the scarce resource of a donor organ. The initiatives are:

-- Extension of coverage of immunosuppressive medications for the lifetime

of the transplanted organ.

-- Patient access to transplant centers.

-- Access to insurance coverage, especially for pediatric patients.

-- Development of programs for patient and professional education

regarding early treatment of diseases that lead to the need for organ

transplants.

Dr. Crippin applauded the efforts of Chairman William Lacy Clay (D-MO), Ranking Member Michael Turner (R-OH) and the subcommittee members to meet, discuss and examine how the nation's solid organ transplant system can be strengthened.

Dr. Crippin also acknowledged the role played by Chairman Clay, U.S. Reps. Camp, Jim Costa (D-CA) and Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL) in reviving the Congressional Organ and Tissue Caucus.

Dr. Crippin is the Immediate Past President of the AST and the Medical Director of the Liver Transplant Program at Barnes Jewish Hospital in St. Louis, Mo.

About AST

Founded in 1982, the American Society of Transplantation is dedicated to advancing the field of transplantation through the promotion of research, education, advocacy, and organ donation to improve patient care. The international society includes more than 2,700 transplant physicians, surgeons and allied health professionals. In 2007, the AST celebrates 25 years of promoting excellence in the field of transplantation. For information about AST, please visit http://www.a-s-t.org.

Contact: Beth Drost

215.884.6499


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SOURCE American Society of Transplantation
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