Between January 1 and November 30, 2007, 26,021 organ transplants occurred in the United States. In 2007, the sex distribution of organ donors was nearly even (6,939 males and 6,284 females), though 57.8 percent of organs donated by living people were from women, and 60.5 percent of organs from deceased donors were from men. Since 1988, there have been 419,520 transplants.
The need for donated organs greatly exceeds their availability, so waiting lists for organs are growing. As of February 1, 2008, there were 97,686 people awaiting a life-saving organ transplant. Females accounted for 41.9 percent of those patients but made up only 36.8 percent of those who received a transplant in 2007.1 Among women waiting for an organ transplant, 45.2 percent were White, 30.4 percent were Black, and 16.2 percent were Hispanic. The kidney was in highest demand, with 31,323 females awaiting this organ as of February 1, 2008.
The number of organs donated has increased significantly since 1988, from 5,909 to 14,756 at year’s end 2006. In 2003, the donation community began to work together through the Organ Donation Breakthrough Collaborative and other grassroots efforts to increase donation. From 2003 to 2006, organ donation among deceased donors increased by an unprecedented 24.3 percent. One of the challenges of organ donation is obtaining consent from the donor’s family or legal surrogate. Consent rates may vary due to religious beliefs, poor communication between health care providers and grieving families, perceived inequities in the allocation system, and lack of knowledge of the wishes of the deceased.2
The Organ Procurement and Transplantation Network and the Scientific Registry of Transplant Recipients are managed by HRSA’s Healthcare Systems Bureau (HSB). Other HSB programs include: the National Marrow Donor Program, the National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program, and the C.W. Bill Young Cell Transplantation Program.