For most people, the first step in receiving a transplant is to get on the OPTN/UNOS national transplant waiting list. All transplant candidates who do not have the option of a living donor (and even some who do) usually wait for some length of time because there are not enough donor organs for all who need them.
What is the national waiting list?
The waiting list is a computer database that contains medical information on every person who is waiting for any type of organ transplant in the U.S. and Puerto Rico. You will not have a number ranking for transplant based on all the other persons who are waiting for your organ. You also will not move up or down each time someone receives a transplant.
Where am I on the national waiting list?
UNOS’ patient affairs specialist, Ruth Langhorne, explains how the national waiting list works:
Steps you need to take
Here are the necessary steps to get on the national waiting list:
- Your physician must give you a referral.
- Contact a transplant hospital. Learn as much as possible about the 200+ transplant hospitals in the United States and choose one based on your needs, including insurance, location, finances and support group availability.
- Schedule an appointment for an evaluation and find out if you are a good candidate for transplant.
- During the evaluation, ask questions to learn as much as possible about that hospital and its transplant team.
- If the hospital’s transplant team determines that you are a good transplant candidate, they will add you to the national waiting list.
UNOS will not notify you when you have been added to the list. Your transplant hospital will notify you within 10 days to inform you about your date of listing. If you have questions about your status on the list, you should ask the team at your transplant hospital.