U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Health Resources and Services Administration

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Organ Transplantation

Since 1988, there have been 447,518 organ transplants in the United States. More than 25,600 of those transplants occurred between January 1 and November 30, 2008. In 2008, nearly 13,000 people donated organs in the U.S. Overall distribution of organ donation by sex was nearly even (6,574 males and 6,357 females), though 60.3 percent of organs donated by living people were from females, and 59.4 percent of organs from deceased donors were from males.

The need for donated organs greatly exceeds their availability, so waiting lists for organs are growing. As of February 13, 2009, there were 100,774 people awaiting a life-saving organ transplant. Females accounted for 41.6 percent of those patients but made up only 37.2 percent of those who received a transplant in 2008.1 Among females waiting for an organ transplant, 44.3 percent were White, 30.9 percent were Black, and 16.6 percent were Hispanic. The kidney was the organ in highest demand, with 32,810 females awaiting this organ as of February 13, 2009.

The number of organs donated annually has increased significantly since 1988, from 5,909 to a total of 14,400 in 2007. 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 2007, organ donation by deceased donors increased by an unprecedented 25.2 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, communication issues between health care providers and grieving families, perceived inequities in the allocation system, lack of knowledge of the wishes of the deceased, and lack of understanding concerning donation and funeral arrangements.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.

1 2008 data are from January 1–November 30, 2008.
2 2007 OPTN/SRTR Annual Report: Transplant Data 1997-2006. HHS/HRSA/SPB/DOT; UNOS; URREA.

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