Organ Donation and Transplantation: We’re All Needed

As the Nation’s Doctor, one of my priorities is to promote and improve the health of all Americans. Organ donations are an important piece of that puzzle – giving us all the chance to give the gift of life.

Did you know that certain medical conditions, such as diabetes and high blood pressure, can put a person at increased risk for organ failure, especially kidney and heart failure? Minorities, including Black and Hispanic Americans, suffer higher rates of these conditions and are less likely to experience optimal levels of control.

That’s one reason why minorities make up nearly six out of 10 people on the national waiting list for lifesaving organ transplants. Organs are in short supply, jeopardizing the lives and livelihoods of individuals across the country.

In fact, 20 people die each day, waiting for a transplant that doesn’t arrive in time.

This month marks National Minority Donor Awareness Month, giving us all an opportunity to raise awareness. Advancements in transplant science and organ procurement are making a difference. Still, one of the best ways to accelerate the return to good health for all Americans awaiting a transplant—people of every race/ethnicity, gender and age—is for every adult to register as an organ, eye, and tissue donor.

Here’s why that can make such a difference. When an organ becomes available, it is matched to a recipient depending on blood type, body size, tissue type, and other factors—not by race, ethnicity or gender.

The success of a transplant is often greater when organs are matched between people of the same racial or ethnic background, who may have more compatible blood and tissue types. So, the more of us who register, the better the chance that those on the waiting list will find the right match. A great diversity of donors has the potential to improve both access and outcomes for everyone!

The good news is that the number of registering donors is increasing. Today, more than 60 percent of U.S. adults are registered as organ, eye, and tissue donors. Sixty percent is good, but we can do better.

Join me in helping end the wait for the men, women, and children across the country. Signing up is easy. Learn more and register online in minutes at organdonor.gov. There is no greater gift and no better time than now.

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In written comments on a draft of this report, the department concurred with eight of the nine recommendations, and described steps it had taken and/or planned to take to address them. The department did not state whether it concurred with GAO's recommendation to encourage state officials to consider involving state CIOs in Medicaid IT projects. HHS stated that it was unable to discern evidence as to whether a certain structure contributed to a specific outcome. GAO believes, consistent with federal law, that CIOs are critically important to the success of IT projects. For more information, contact Vijay D’Souza at (202) 512-6240 or dsouzav@gao.gov.
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    Under the Jones Act, vessels carrying merchandise between two points in the U.S. must be built and registered in the United States. Developers are planning a number of offshore wind projects along the U.S. east coast, where many states have set targets for offshore wind energy production. Stakeholders described two approaches to using vessels to install offshore wind energy projects in the U.S. Either approach may lead to the construction of new vessels that comply with the Jones Act. Under one approach, a Jones Act-compliant wind turbine installation vessel (WTIV) would carry components from a U.S. port to the site and also install the turbines. WTIVs have a large deck, legs that allow the vessel to lift out of the water, and a tall crane to lift and place turbines. Stakeholders told GAO there are currently no Jones Act-compliant vessels capable of serving as a WTIV. One company, however, has announced a plan to build one. Under the second approach, a foreign-flag WTIV would install the turbines with components carried to the site from U.S. ports by Jones Act-compliant feeder vessels (see figure). While some potential feeder vessels exist, stakeholders said larger ones would probably need to be built to handle the large turbines developers would likely use. Example of an Offshore Wind Installation in U.S. Waters Using a Foreign-Flag Installation Vessel and Jones Act-Compliant Feeder Vessels Stakeholders identified multiple challenges—which some federal programs address—associated with constructing and using Jones Act-compliant vessels for offshore wind installations. For example, stakeholders said that obtaining investments in Jones Act-compliant WTIVs—which may cost up to $500 million—has been challenging, in part due to uncertainty about the timing of federal approval for projects. According to officials at the Department of the Interior, which is responsible for approving offshore wind projects, the Department plans to issue a decision on the nation's first large-scale offshore wind project in December 2020. Some stakeholders said that if this project is approved, investors may be more willing to move forward with vessel investments. While stakeholders also said port infrastructure limitations could pose challenges to using Jones Act-compliant vessels for offshore wind, offshore wind developers and state agencies have committed to make port investments. Offshore wind, a significant potential source of energy in the United States, requires a number of oceangoing vessels for installation and other tasks. Depending on the use, these vessels may need to comply with the Jones Act. Because Jones Act-compliant vessels are generally more expensive to build and operate than foreign-flag vessels, using such vessels may increase the costs of offshore wind projects. Building such vessels may also lead to some economic benefits for the maritime industry. A provision was included in statute for GAO to review offshore wind vessels. This report examines (1) approaches to use of vessels that developers are considering for offshore wind, consistent with Jones Act requirements, and the extent to which such vessels exist, and (2) the challenges industry stakeholders have identified associated with constructing and using such vessels to support U.S. offshore wind, and the actions federal agencies have taken to address these challenges. GAO analyzed information on vessels that could support offshore wind, reviewed relevant laws and studies, and interviewed officials from federal agencies and industry stakeholders selected based on their involvement in ongoing projects and recommendations from others. For more information, contact Andrew Von Ah at (202) 512-2834 or vonaha@gao.gov.
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    In U.S GAO News
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