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Press Release

Answers to organ transplant questions

February 15, 2002

DENVER – The movie “John Q” has raised questions about insurance coverage of organ transplants. Here are some facts about Kaiser Permanente’s organ transplant program:

  • Organ and tissue transplants are covered benefits for any Kaiser Permanente member who meets medical selection criteria. Kaiser Permanente has covered the cost of 41 heart transplants in Colorado. Nationwide, Kaiser Permanente covered 419 transplants of various kinds in 2001.
  • At Kaiser Permanente, physicians decide whether a transplant is the right treatment option.
  • The shortage of donor organs is the greatest obstacle to saving the lives of patients who need a transplant. On average, 114 people are added to the nation’s organ transplant waiting list each day—1 every 13 minutes. On average, 16 patients die every day waiting for an organ— 1 person every 91 minutes.
  • The Colorado Donor Alliance reports that 59 people were on the heart transplant waiting list in Colorado in 2001, but only 39 people received a new heart. There were 250 organ transplants in Colorado in 2001, but 1,391 people were on waiting lists. This list includes kidney, pancreas, heart, liver, lung, and intestine transplants.
  • You may register as an organ donor when you get your driver’s license. If you aren’t sure whether you are already registered, look at the front of your driver’s license to see if a “Y” is printed above the word “Donor.” You also may register online at For more information, call the Colorado Donor Alliance, 303-329-4747 or 1-888-868-4747.
  • Transplants for Kaiser Permanente patients are done across the country at hospitals that have a proven track record and meet Kaiser Permanente’s stringent quality standards. Hospitals must be experienced in performing the type of transplant in question and have results that meet or exceed national benchmarks. In Colorado, for example, adult heart transplants are performed at the University of Colorado Health Sciences Center and child heart transplants at The Children’s Hospital.
  • A committee of Kaiser Permanente physicians and staff has evaluated and selected the transplant hospitals, called “Centers of Excellence.” We currently have 24 Centers of Excellence that together offer 84 transplant programs.

About Kaiser Permanente Colorado

About Kaiser Permanente ColoradoThe Colorado Permanente Medical Group has an exclusive contract with Kaiser Foundation Health Plan of Colorado to form Kaiser Permanente Colorado, the state's largest private, non-profit health care provider in the state. CPMG is Colorado's largest medical group practice within a health care organization, and employs 800 regular status physicians representing all medical specialties and major sub-specialties. More than 483,000 members in the Denver/Boulder and Colorado Springs areas have access to Kaiser Permanente care through an expanded suite of health care products. Kaiser Permanente physicians and care teams focus on prevention as well as managing disease, all in an effort to help patients live well and thrive. Visit us online at or get the latest in health news at our News Center.