New York Times
by Ted Alcorn
The organization, the United Network for Organ Sharing, or U.N.O.S., decided to slightly loosen the geographic boundaries that determine how organs are matched to patients. The move will improve the chances for the sickest patients awaiting new livers in regions where they were previously most scarce… Dr. Julie Heimbach, the chair of the committee that advanced the final proposal, said it deeply divided the transplant community. The revised system is a compromise, she said, but one that will significantly shorten wait times for the most desperately ill patients. “It’s been a very long and arduous path,” said Dr. Heimbach, who is the surgical director of the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn. Not acting, some U.N.O.S. members said, could have prompted intervention by the federal government, potentially jeopardizing the organization’s autonomy.
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Context: Julie Heimbach, M.D. is a transplant surgeon and the surgical director of Liver Transplantation at Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota, with a primary focus in adult and pediatric liver transplantation and living-donor surgery. In addition to her clinical activities, Dr. Heimbach is active in research including analysis of outcomes for complex patients such as those with hilar cholangiocarcinoma and other malignancies, or obesity. She has been involved in research examining the long-term outcomes of living liver donors and living kidney donors and her work has been published in high-impact scientific journals. She has also been active in education, having previously served as the surgery clerkship director for Mayo Medical School (now Mayo Clinic School of Medicine). In addition to her work with medical students, Dr. Heimbach has mentored many transplant surgery fellows and research fellows. Dr. Heimbach is also very active in the development of national organ allocation policy. She is currently on the Board of the Organ Procurement and Transplantation Network (OPTN) and is also serving as the vice-chair of the OPTN Liver-Intestine Committee. She has previously served on the Membership and Professional Standards Committee of the OPTN.