The number of people needing a transplant continues to rise faster than the number of donors. About 3,700 transplant candidates are added to the national waiting list each month. Each day, about 77 people receive organ transplants. However, 18 people die each day waiting for transplants that can't take place because of the shortage of donated organs.

There are now more than 92,000 people on the waiting list. Experts suggest that each of us could save or help as many as 50 people by being an organ and tissue donor.

The need for transplants is high among minorities, particularly African Americans.

1. Some diseases of the kidney, heart, lung, pancreas, and liver that can lead to organ failure are found more frequently in minority women.

2. The rate of organ donation from minority women does not keep pace with the number needing transplants. Although minority women donate, in part, to their share of the population, their need for transplants is greater.

3. Matching donor organs to likely recipients requires genetic similarity. In most cases, people are more similar to people of their own race than to people of other races.

4. Minority women may have to wait longer for matched organs and therefore may be sicker at the time of transplant or die waiting. With more donated organs from this group, finding a match will be quicker and the waiting time will be cut, and more lives will be saved.

Facts & Stats

- Over 89,000 U.S. patients are currently waiting for an organ transplant; nearly 4,000 new patients are added to the waiting list each month.
- Every day, 17 people die while waiting for a transplant of a vital organ, such as a heart, liver, kidney, pancreas, lung or bone marrow.
- Because of the lack of available donors in this country, 3,886 kidney patients, 1,811 liver patients, 457 heart patients and 483 lung patients died in 2004 while waiting for life-saving organ transplants.
- Nearly 10 percent of the patients currently waiting for liver transplants are young people under 18 years of age.
- Acceptable organ donors can range in age from newborn to 65 years or more. People who are 65 years of age or older may be acceptable donors, particularly of corneas, skin, bone and for total body donation.
- An estimated 12,000 people who die each year meet the criteria for organ donation, but less than half of that number become actual organ donors.
- Donor organs are matched to waiting recipients by a national computer registry, called the National Organ Procurement and Transplantation Network (OPTN). This computer registry is operated by an organization known as the United Network for Organ Sharing (UNOS), which is located in Richmond, Virginia.
- Currently there are 58 organ procurement organizations (OPOs) across the country, which provide organ procurement services to 261 transplant centers.
- All hospitals are required by law to have a "Required Referral" system in place. Under this system, the hospital must notify the local Organ Procurement Organization (OPO) of all patient deaths. If the OPO determines that organ and/or tissue donation is appropriate in a particular case, they will have a representative contact the deceased patientís family to offer them the option of donating their loved oneís organs and tissues.
- By signing a Uniform Donor Card, an individual indicates his or her wish to be a donor. However, at the time of death, the person's next-of-kin will still be asked to sign a consent form for donation. It is important for people who wish to be organ and tissue donors to tell their family about this decision so that their wishes will be honored at the time of death. It is estimated that about 35 percent of potential donors never become donors because family members refuse to give consent.
- Over 2,500 bone marrow transplants were performed in the U.S. in 2004. Marrow is collected from a pelvic bone using a special needle while the volunteer donor is under anesthesia. The majority of bone marrow transplants are done for leukemia.
- In 2004, 7,000 cornea transplants were performed. Corneal transplantation results in improved vision in nearly 95 percent of those who undergo the procedure because of corneal disorders. Corneas are acceptable for donation regardless of abnormalities in vision.


Matching Donors

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