Contest Entries

Transplanting Too Soon

Entrants: Luis Fabregas and Andrew Conte

Affiliation: Pittsburgh Tribune-Review

Medium Newspapers (90,000-250,000 circ.)

Year: 2008

Place: First Place

Provide a brief synopsis of the story or stories, including any significant findings.

The initial three-part series focused on the practice of doing liver transplants on patients who don't need them because their illnesses have not progressed to the point when they can benefit from the surgery. These patients at the bottom of waiting lists have a higher chance of dying after getting a transplant when they could have lived longer without the transplant, according to widely accepted scientific research.

Judges' comments: The Pittsburgh Tribune-Review's account of the growing use of inferior livers for transplant was a tour de force on several fronts: it broke news, explaining how changes in policy had opened the floodgates for inferior liver use; it made a powerful case that hundreds of people each year may be getting organs they either don't need or that may make them sicker; it had immediate impact on the practice of medicine - both in Pittsburgh, and nationally. We were struck by the contrast between the approach followed at the nation's best transplant centers, and others. The medical ethics versus economics report was excellent. And the comments by Thomas Starzel, now 81, against this new money-making approach added yet more strength and credibility to this work.

Read "Transplanting Too Soon."

See the contest questionnaire about how the project was reported.