MEMPHIS, TN (abc24.com) - Doctors at the Mid-South's largest transplant center say they could be forced out of business if something drastic doesn't happen. Doctors at Methodist Hospital say a change in federal policy will limit where they can get organs.
Methodist Hospital is the fourth largest liver transplant center in the country. Right now if you need a liver, kidney or pancreas transplant and live in Memphis, that's where you'll probably go.
Beverly Robertson had a kidney transplant at Methodist Hospital last February.
"I came through the surgery well," she said, "I know what it feels like to wait, know what it feels like to anticipate."
Tennessee has a shared services agreement between our area and the rest of the state. According to the agreement, the patients in the worst condition, no matter where they live, get the organ. In December that agreement ends.
Without it, doctors at Methodist Hospital say truth is there will be a 75 percent decrease in patients' access to life saving organs in our area.
Dr. James Eason says about six years ago a similar situation unfolded for people who needed heart and lung transplants. As a result, "The waiting time for a heart transplant in Memphis is four times long as it is in Nashville," he says.
The bottom line is when the new policy goes into effect, "It means our patients are going to wait longer, get sicker and die while waiting."
Methodist doctors say worst case scenario, it could cause Memphis to lose their transplant program. Truth is, Methodist probably won't close the Transplant Center but it could be significantly scaled back.
"Our patients will die; people in Memphis will lose their access to transplants."
There are two ways to solve this problem. The two organ donation groups in Tennessee could merge. The other option, Methodist has asked the federal government for a waiver. Truth is, no one knows if either will happen.