Donor selection is an integral part of the organ transplant program. Various factors influence the selection process when allocating organs for transplantation. Left-digit bias, a cognitive bias, is a psychological phenomenon in which the leftmost digit of a number disproportionately affects decision-making.

American transplant centers, as well as organ procurement organizations, the groups responsible for recovering organs from deceased donors in the United States, were less likely to accept or select organs from donors who were 70 years old when they died than 69, new donors. research found.

Previous research has revealed that this type of bias exists when organizations decide whether or not to discard donor kidneys. Clare E. Jacobson, MD, a general surgery resident at University of Michigan Health, wondered if the bias would still exist if the study included all organ types.

Organ Donation: Life Goes On

“Donated organs are a life-saving resource, but there are more people on the waiting list than there are organs available,” said Jacobson, first author of the study. “We were interested in exploring how we could make small changes to optimize the current supply of deceased donor organs, both to serve patients on the waiting list and to honor the gift of life that these donors provide.”

Left Digit Bias

Using data from the Organ Sharing Network, a nonprofit organization that manages the nation’s organ transplant system, Jacobson and his research team found that both OPOs and transplant centers were about 5% less likely to choose an organ for older adults, regardless of type. 70 and 69. The results show that 1 in 18 donors age 70 or older will not have an organ selected for transplant, Jacobson said.

“This demonstrated bias is not limited to a single transplant center, OPO, or even step in the transplant process and is seen across all organ types,” Jacobson said. “In our role as stewards of these gifted organs, and for all patients awaiting transplants, interventions must target each step in the transplant process to overcome our biases.”


Note: When the researchers compared organ acceptance and selection rates for donors aged 60 to 59, the left-handedness bias was not significant. Jacobson said this may be because age weighs less heavily in younger organ donors than measures such as weight, blood work and other health problems in the donor.

Source: Eurekalert

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