In the current season of “House of Cards,” President Frank Underwood (Kevin Spacey) receives a liver transplant after his staff maneuvers him to the top of a waiting list for organ transplantation — jumping ahead of another patient who dies.
The plotline begs the question: Could the real president jump the line to get an organ?
The simple answer: No, the Boston Globe
reports. In real life, such a move would be highly illegal and essentially impossible, according to the nonprofit organization that coordinates transplants across the United States.
Patients are chosen for transplants through a computer algorithm that does not take into account whether the recipient is the president of the United States and it’s designed to thward tampering.
“The computer would have no idea that he was the president, just like it has no idea how rich and famous someone else is,” said Anne Paschke, a spokeswoman for the group, the United Network for Organ Sharing. “Nobody can rig the system to make it different in one case or not.”
UNOS has an in-house IT security team and audits every transplant to make sure the proper procedures were followed.
Yet transplant specialists say many people believe the myth that the rich and powerful get preferential treatment.
“We would never listen to anybody, including the president of the United States themselves,” said Dr. Ryutaro Hirose, a liver transplant specialist at the University of California-San Francisco, who sits on the UNOS liver committee. “This is how our allocation works.”
Currently, more than 15,000 people in the United States waiting for a liver transplant.
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