Episode 3: Need a New Liver? Drinkers to the Back of the Line

One day, when she was only 39, bar manager Jamie Imhof collapsed. While she lay in a coma, doctors told her family that they knew how to save her life: she needed an immediate liver transplant. But, transplant centers follow an informal “rule” when it comes to patients whose livers fail due to heavy alcohol use. Jamie would not be eligible for a new liver for six months. For a case as severe as Jamie’s, waiting six months would be a death sentence. We hear about the “six month rule” for liver transplants and why one Johns Hopkins surgeon says it’s a practice based on stigma, not science.


Jamie Imhof

Jamie Imhof describes herself as a recovering “addict” and “alcoholic”, liver + kidney transplant recipient, on a mission to break the six-month sobriety rule to help save lives. But she’s far more than those words. She’s brilliant, wickedly funny, a hardcore activist dedicated to several causes, star athlete, artist/designer and much more. She’s also a born vegetarian, an avid animal lover, with a powerful story to share.

Jeffrey Kahn

Andreas C. Dracopolous Director
Johns Hopkins Berman Institute of Bioethics

Andrew MacGregor Cameron, MD, PhD

Johns Hopkins Hospital (where Jamie had her surgery)

Additional Resources

If you or your loved one is struggling with alcohol use, visit the SAMHSA website to find help or call 1-800-662-HELP (4357).

The United Organ Transplant Service (UNOS) helps distribute organs for transplant across the country. You can read more about how livers are distributed at their website.

To learn more about Andrew Cameron’s program that ignores the six month rule, read this article from Hopkins Medicine Magazine.

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