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Redesign of US donor-liver network could boost transplants by several hundred per year
Date:2/24/2011

PITTSBURGHA redesign of the nation's donor-liver distribution network developed by University of Pittsburgh researchers could result in several hundred more people each year receiving the transplants they need.

The team reports in the journal INFORMS Management Science that donor livers currently are doled out to 11 national regions that evolved with little regard for geography and demographics, an arrangement that prevents many livers from getting to prospective recipients in time. The Pitt researchers instead trimmed the network down to six regions that better account for urban and rural population differences, geographic distance, and the anticipated supply of and demand for donor livers. They calculated that their rearrangement could result in up to 14 percent more transplants each year, a sizable increase considering that more than 6,000 transplants were performed in 2009 alone.

Andrew Schaefer, an associate professor of industrial engineering in Pitt's Swanson School of Engineering, said that the team's proposed regions do not change how livers are allocatedthe most critical patients still receive an organ firstbut rather put more potential donors and recipients within range of one another. Schaefer worked with his former doctoral student and lead author Nan Kong, a Pitt alumnus now at Purdue University; Brady Hunsaker, a former Pitt professor of industrial engineering now at Google Pittsburgh; and Mark S. Roberts, professor and chair of health policy and management in Pitt's Graduate School of Public Health. The project was supported by grants from the National Science Foundation and the Air Force Office of Scientific Research.

"We're simply redesigning the hierarchy by geographic and demographic information to increase the likelihood that recipients will be found closer to the liver's point of origin," Schaefer said. "Under the current system, a liver harvested in New Jersey is more likely to go to a patient in Be
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Contact: Morgan Kelly
mekelly@pitt.edu
412-624-4356
University of Pittsburgh
Source:Eurekalert  

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Redesign of US donor-liver network could boost transplants by several hundred per year
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