MEMPHIS, TN (abc24.com) - Is a battle over body parts getting in the way of saving lives? Doctors at Methodist Hospital's Transplant Center say a change in federal policy will limit where they can get organs and reduce the number of transplants they can perform.
There is a solution, but a turf war is getting in the way of these lifesaving operations.
Those following this situation say instead of worrying about turf, everyone involved should look at the big picture.
Dr. Martin Crose is concerned, "More people are going to have to wait longer for organ transplant," which is what will happen if something doesn't change.
Tennessee is served by two different organ donation groups. One serves the Memphis area, and the other serves the rest of the state.
An agreement allows the companies to share organs from either area, in effect offering the entire state access to more organs. But in December, that agreement ends.
Doctors say truth is, if that's allowed to happen it will cause a 75 percent decrease in patients' access to life saving organs in our area.
"What were doing is making a bad problem a worse problem," Dr. Croce says, adding the problem would be solved if both groups doing organ donation in Tennessee merged. The one in our area, Mid-South Transplant Foundation, is rejecting the merger idea.
Dr. James Eason with Methodist Hospital noted, "I think they are interested in protecting their business over protecting the lives of people in their community."
Mid-South Transplant Foundation denies that.
The other solution to this problem: Methodist Hospital is asking the federal government for a waiver to bypass Mid-South Transplant Foundation, instead joining up with the organization that covers the rest of the state. That group gets almost four times as many organ donations as Mid-South Transplants.
"Simply by just doing the math, Tennessee donor services covers larger area than Mid-South Transplant, therefore they have access to more donors than Mid-South Transplant."
The federal government has yet to rule on that. But truth is, in the end this power struggle hurts patients.
"I think what we need to focus on is the patient waiting for a transplant; the longer they wait the more likely they are to die."
No one from Mid-South Transplant Foundation would go on camera, but off camera I was told they feel they can best serve local people in our area, that's why a merger isn't an option.