Transplant List Facts

Waiting for a transplant is not like taking a number and waiting your turn. The waitlist is better described as a giant pool of patients. When a deceased organ is identified, UNOS’ (United Network for Organ Sharing) computer system generates a ranked list of transplant candidates who are suitable to receive each organ. UNOS matches the individual waiting for a lifesaving transplant with compatible donor organs.

How Patients are Prioritized for Transplantation:

  1. Before an organ is allocated, all transplant candidates on the waiting list that are incompatible with the donor because of blood type, height, weight and other medical factors are automatically screened from any potential matches. Then, UNOS’ computer system determines the order that the other candidates will receive offers.
  2. Organ transplants are most successful when preservation and transport time are short. The matching system considers the distance between donor and transplant hospitals. In general, local candidates get organ offers before those listed at more distant hospitals.
  3. Proper organ size is critical to a successful transplant, which means that children often respond better to child-sized organs. Although pediatric candidates have their own unique scoring system, children essentially are first in line for other children’s organs.

When a transplant hospital accepts a person as a transplant candidate, they enter the candidates medical data—information such as the blood type, medical urgency, and current location of the transplant hospital—into UNOS’ computerized network. When an organ procurement organization obtains the consent of someone who registered as an organ donor, that potential donor’s medical data—blood type, body size, and location of the donor’s hospital—is then entered in UNOS’ network.

By assessing the combination of the donor and candidates information, the UNOS computer system generates a “match run,”/rank-order list of candidates to be offered each organ. This matching system is unique to each donor and each organ. The candidates who appear highest in the ranking are those who are in the most urgent need of a transplant and/or those who are most likely to have the highest chance of survival post-transplant.

Additional Facts:

  1. Every ten seconds someone is added to the national transplant list
  2. The waiting list is always being updated and matches always being searched for
  3. Each organ has a time limit allowing for a successful transplant
  4. 39,719 transplants occurred in 2019
  5. As of now, about 15,000 transplants have occurred in 2020

-Vlad Elizarov, Alexander’s Hope Intern