Late January, a registered nurse within the Department of Veterans Affairs outlined and submitted several issues in regards to the transplant system for our military veterans. Jamie McBride is the program manager at the Solid Organ Transplant Program in the Audie L. Murphy Memorial VA Hospital in San Antonio, TX. He sent his findings to the U.S. Office of Special Counsel (OSC) in an attempt to shed more light on an ongoing problem.

A huge problem McBride spoke of was the sheer lack of VA Transplant Centers (VATC), and the distance one has to travel just to get to them. Upon investigation, the Office of the Medical Inspector (OMI) from the VA found that only 10% of the approximately 1,500 veterans who received a transplant actually lived within 100 miles of the VATC in which they were treated. For example, if you look at the image below, imagine that you live in Florida and you liver transplant — you would have to relocate to Richmond, VA. If you’re in New Mexico or in Arizona, you’re going to have to travel quite a ways to get a lung transplant. This can be a serious problem when there is a high risk involved in travel — people in need of organ transplants aren’t always in the traveling shape.

McBride claimed that these hardship costs were not adequately addressed by the VA, as the whole process could take months or even years. He states that the problem is so bad that some veterans decline the process and die, unwilling to put their families through all that.

Here is a map of the VA organ transplant centers: