Tennessee top spot for transplant candidates

When Apple CEO Steve Jobs needed a liver transplant, he registered with transplant units in locations around the country. He hit the jackpot in Tennessee, which had a 229-person waiting list for a liver--dramatically shorter than the 3,474-person list he would have endured in his home state of California.

Increasingly, Tennessee is becoming the transplant destination of choice for out-of-state patients who can afford to hop into their own jet and be there within hours if an organ becomes available. The median wait for liver transplants at Methodist University Hospital, the facility which gave Jobs his surgery, is only four months. Compare that with the University of California at Los Angeles Medical Center, where the wait is 27 months, according to 2007 data.

Not only has the Tennessee organ procurement program consistently been in the top five of 58 U.S. groups for receiving organs, relatively few locals have seemed to need them. In big cities like LA, Philadelphia and New York, conversely, there's relatively few donors for the number of people on the waiting list.

Big shots like Jobs typically register with organ procurement organizations in multiple states, then leap when they have a chance. People with less means, however, can only register with their local organizations, as an out of state organ will do them no good if they can't get to it quickly.

To learn more about this situation:
- read this piece in The Tennessean

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