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Patient information on disaster relief and assistance

UNOS, in its role as the Organ Procurement and Transplantation Network (OPTN), is dedicated to providing assistance to member institutions, transplant candidates and potential living donors in the event of a natural disaster affecting long-term services of transplant centers.

UNOS is in contact with all member transplant facilities nationwide. In case of significant and potential long-term disruption of service at one or more centers, we will provide any needed updates through this website. The Organ Center can assist transplant hospitals and organ procurement organizations as needed with organ placement or management of key donor or candidate data, in order to provide continuity of essential services.

Transplant institutions should maintain disaster recovery plans that address their individual facility’s needs and circumstances. This includes mechanisms for communicating with transplant candidates and potential living donors.

As UNOS monitors the impact, we are diligently working with transplant hospitals to stay up-to-date on the evolving situation and its effect on patients.

For transplant candidates experiencing a disruption, your transplant hospital is the best contact regarding interim care, your status, appointment schedules, and availability of critical services.

For help in contacting your transplant hospital, you may call our toll-free Patient Services line at (888) 894-6361. Patient Services is staffed from 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. ET, Monday through Friday.

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U.S. reaches historic milestone of 1 million transplants

U.S. reaches historic milestone of 1 million transplants

In a historic milestone, the U.S. has achieved its 1 millionth organ transplant, more than any other country in the world.

Thanks to a growing public commitment to organ donation, and thanks to the collective skill and dedication of thousands of organ donation and transplant professionals, the nation continues its record-setting trend of increases each year in transplantation:

  • In 2021, for the first time, more than 40,000 transplants took place, a total likely to be repeated if not surpassed in 2022.
  • In each of the past 11 years, new annual records have been set in the number of deceased donors nationwide.
  • Half of all the transplants ever performed in the U.S. have taken place in just the past 15 years.
  • More than 400,000 people are alive today with a functioning transplant.

The 1 million milestone demonstrates a powerful trend of system-wide increases, a success made possible by the ongoing expansion of more equitable organ allocation policies, an increasing focus on non-traditional donors, collaborative efforts to increase donation, the continuous evolution of organ preservation techniques and other scientific breakthroughs.

But this is only the beginning.

Accelerating the path to the next 1 million

Living It Forward, a national initiative led by UNOS in partnership with the nation’s organ donation and transplant community, calls to further accelerate the pace of lifesaving transplantation while commemorating so many lives saved, recognizing those still waiting, and remembering those we have lost.

Visit LivingItForward.org to read and share stories about some of the people behind the 1 million and see how the gift of life has allowed them to begin living it forward.

Register now to live it forward: Become an organ donor

UNOS encourages everyone to become part of our community by registering as an organ donor. One person can save up to eight lives through organ donation and change the lives of as many as 75 through tissue donation. Because only two percent of people die in a way that makes organ donation possible, the need is great. More than 100,000 people remain on the transplant waitlist. Please register today at RegisterMe.org

 

hiIllustration of equity showing three individuals provided equal footing in order to reach an apple on tree branch

Race-based calculations eliminated from transplant candidate listing

Race-based calculations eliminated from transplant candidate listing

A widely-supported change in transplant policy will mean increased equity for kidney patients. Information for patients is available to help them understand the changes.

In brief:

  • When doctors try to assess how sick their kidney patients are, they use a common clinical calculation to estimate a person’s glomerular filtration rate (GFR)
  • Some formulas used to estimate GFR include a race variable, which has been shown to disadvantage Black patients with chronic kidney disease
  • The Organ Procurement and Transplantation Network (OPTN) unanimously approved a proposal to require that transplant hospitals only use race-neutral eGFR formulas, effective July 27, 2022
  • This change is expected to increase equity, and has the support of a broad coalition of patients and professionals
  • A FAQ for patients is available about the implementation of the new requirement

What does this new policy do?

It will help increase equity by ensuring that GFR values are more accurately estimated. After it takes effect, calculations used to estimate any future candidates’ GFRs must not include a race variable. This prevents Black candidates’ eGFR values from being artificially increased due to their race. Learn more about eGFR and the impact of race-based adjustments.

I’m already registered to the waiting list, and my GFR has already been calculated. What happens to me?

Transplant programs are allowed to update the date for which a candidate qualified for transplant waiting time, if the program is able to determine the candidate’s current waiting time credit was based on a race-based eGFR. As currently approved, such an adjustment could occur as far back as the date the candidate was initially registered for a transplant.

Read the patient FAQ for more information, and learn who qualifies for waiting time modification.

The community developed this policy together

The Minority Affairs and Kidney Transplantation Committees proposed updating OPTN policy to require eGFR calculations be race-neutral. The Board of Directors approved this policy change on June 27, 2022. This means that any eGFR calculation used for the purposes of transplant must not contain a race-based variable.

The proposed change went out for public comment in January 2022. An earlier request for feedback on reassessing the inclusion of race in eGFR had a public comment period in the summer of 2021.

The removal of race variables from eGFR calculations is supported by recommendations from the American Society of Nephrology (ASN) and National Kidney Foundation (NKF), who formed a joint taskforce that released a report in 2021 and participated in a listening session with the OPTN in 2022. Improving equity in access to transplant opportunities for patients is an OPTN strategic goal.

hiRecord set

All-time records again set in 2021 for organ transplants, organ donation from deceased donors

All-time records again set in 2021 for organ transplants, organ donation from deceased donors

In brief:

  • 40,000 transplant milestone exceeded for first time
  • Annual records set for kidney, liver and heart transplants
  • Deceased donation continues 11-year record trend

In 2021, 41,354 organ transplants were performed in the United States, an increase of 5.9 percent over 2020 and the first time the annual total exceeded 40,000, according to preliminary data from United Network for Organ Sharing (UNOS), which serves as the Organ Procurement and Transplantation Network under federal contract.

The three organ types most commonly transplanted all set annual volume records. There were totals of 24,669 kidney transplants, 9,236 liver transplants and 3,817 heart transplants. Liver transplant totals have set annual records for the past nine years, and heart transplants have set a new record each of the past 10 years.

“We are gratified that transplantation continues to increase substantially and meet the needs of many more people with organ failure, despite ongoing challenges to healthcare relating to the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Matthew Cooper, M.D., FACS, president of the UNOS Board of Directors. “This speaks to the dedication and collaboration of donor hospitals, organ procurement organizations and transplant hospitals striving to ensure every opportunity to give the Gift of Life is pursued and celebrated.

“As always, we are indebted to the many thousands of people who make these transplants possible through the selfless gift of organ donation. And we are reminded daily of our need to help the tens of thousands of men, women and children continuing to await a lifesaving transplant.”

A total of 13,861 people became deceased organ donors nationwide in 2021, representing the eleventh consecutive record year for deceased donation and an increase of 10.1 percent over 2020. In May 2021, the weekly total of deceased donors exceeded 300 for the first time; on two subsequent weeks in June, the threshold of 300 donors also was surpassed.

Increases in donation occurred in many areas throughout the nation. Of 57 organ procurement organizations (OPOs), 49 experienced an increase in donation over their 2020 total. Forty-five OPOs set all-time records for donors recovered in a single year.

Donors representing less traditional medical criteria continue to fuel the overall increase. Donation from individuals who died of cardiorespiratory failure (DCD donors), as opposed to brain death, continued a substantial increase. The 4,187 DCD donors increased by 29.9 percent over the total in 2020. Also, for the third straight year, the most common age range of deceased donors was 50 to 64. The 4,270 donors in this category increased by 14.6 percent over 2020.

Living donor transplants, which decreased significantly in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic, increased in 2021, but still at lower totals than prior years. Some transplant programs have continued to curtail living donor transplant procedures temporarily in areas particularly affected by large outbreaks of the virus. A total of 6,541 living donor transplants were performed in 2021, an increase of 14.2 percent over the 2020 total.

hiVideos to understand allocation

Lung and kidney patients: Animated videos describe allocation scores and formulas

Lung and kidney patients: Animated videos describe allocation scores and formulas

Three brief narrated, animated videos are now available on the OPTN website* to describe formulas used in lung and kidney allocation policy. They are designed in particular for the needs of transplant candidates and their caregivers, to explain in plain language what the scoring systems do and how they are calculated. Each video also references the sample calculator for each formula on the OPTN website.

The videos address the following topics:

Transplant candidates, recipients or caregivers seeking more detailed information about OPTN allocation policy may call Patient Services at 888-894-6361.


* What is the OPTN? Learn here.

Find brochures about organ allocation policies on UNOS.

hiTransplant recipient and photographer, Debra O'Hearn

The Gallery at UNOS: Nov. 5 virtual opening of Looking Back

The Gallery at UNOS: Nov. 5 virtual opening of Looking Back

November 5, 2020, United Network for Organ Sharing held a virtual art opening reception. Watch recording below.

“Looking Back” is a photography exhibition featuring Debra O’Hearn’s art documenting her journey from diagnosis to survival. In 2011 photographer and heart recipient Debra shared a 12-piece photography tribute to her donor, 29-year-old Emily Compton. Debra, a former ER nurse, created the series detailing her intense 4-year battle. She received a lifesaving heart transplant on Easter Sunday in April 2007. This November, we shared the exhibit again along with recently created works of art.

The virtual opening included:

  • a tour of the art with Debra O’Hearn
  • a conversation with heart recipient Debra and her donor’s mother, Martha Compton
  • and questions from our virtual audience

Dedicated to increasing awareness of lifesaving organ transplants and organ donation, The Gallery at UNOS regularly features artwork by local artists and those touched by donation and transplantation.