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Author Topic: 'Genius' pair rewrite rules of organ transplants, among other interests  (Read 2290 times)

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Offline Karol

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From Sun Magazine: 'Genius' pair rewrite rules of organ transplants, among other interests
With unassuming brilliance, Dorry Segev, Sommer Gentry share passions, save lives

November 14, 2012 | By Mary Carole McCauley, The Baltimore Sun

"If you don't get a liver in the right amount of time, you'll die," Segev says. "At certain disease severities, patients in some parts of the country might have a 15 percent chance of dying in the next three months. But patients living in other parts of the country might have a 90 percent chance of dying."

Gentry and Segev recently finished a formula that they think will remedy this disparity while staying within the deadlines imposed by a liver that can survive only 12 hours outside the body.

"There's a trade­off between the transport time it takes to get a liver someplace and how fair you want the access to livers to be," Gentry says. "I'm looking at it mathematically as a redistricting problem. The organ transplant system is divided into regions. The same way that congressional districts can be gerrymandered to provide political advantages, the geographic boundaries of regions for livers can be redrawn so that each region has an appropriate balance of demand and supply."

Segev and Gentry realize their new formula is unlikely to win universal acclaim.

As Roberts puts it: "If half the people have to wait longer for a liver, they're going to be upset."

He likens it to the "liver wars" that began in 1998. According to published reports, at least six state legislatures passed bills defying a federal regulation requiring that organs be made available first to the sickest patients within each region. Previously, priority had been given to local patients who had waited the longest for a transplant — even if they were comparatively healthy.

Six years of lawsuits, negotiation and compromise followed. But, ultimately, the new rules gained widespread acceptance. Roberts hopes for a similar outcome for Segev and Gentry's new formula.

"There easily could be action in Congress to delay any changes," Roberts says. "But, my sense is that we're in a different place now. More people are seeing that there is a bad problem that might be fixed by making the system more fair."


Dorry Segev

Age: 41

Birthplace: Israel

Residence: Canton

Day job: Transplant surgeon, Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine

Education: Bachelor's degree in computer science and electrical engineering, Rice University. Medical degree and

Ph.d. in clinical investigation from Hopkins. . Master's in biostatistics and Ph.D. in clinical investigation from Hopkins.

Sommer Gentry

Age: 35

Birthplace: California

Residence: Canton

Day job: Assistant mathematics professor, U.S. Naval Academy, Annapolis

Education: Bachelor's and master's degrees in computer science from Stanford University. Ph.D., electrical

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