During 2003, there were 25,462 organ transplants in the
United States. Since 1988, the number of organ transplants has increased
each year. The gender distribution among organ donors was fairly
even in 2003 (6,644 females and 6,634 males donated organs.) In
2003, women were more likely than men to donate organs while alive
(58.4 percent of living donors were women).Waiting lists for organs
continue to increase because the need for donated organs greatly
outweighs the availability. As of February 11, 2005, there were
87,178 people certified for a transplant and waiting for organs.
Females made up 37.9 percent of those receiving transplants in 2003
and 42.2 percent of those on the waiting list. Racial and ethnic
minorities are disproportionately represented among women waiting
for an organ. Among women on the waiting list, 28.5 percent were
Blacks and 15.3 percent were Hispanics. The kidney was the organ
in highest demand, with a total of 60,859 individuals awaiting a
kidney, 42 percent of whom were female.
Although there has been an increase in organ donations each year
since 1988, obtaining consent for organ donation has been challenging.
Consent primarily must be obtained from the donor family or a legal
surrogate. Some of the reasons consent rates vary include religious
perceptions, poor communication between grieving families and health
care providers, perceived inequities in the allocation system, and
lack of knowledge of the wishes of the deceased. Race and ethnicity
also appear to be a strong predictor of willingness to consent to
The Organ Procurement and Transplantation Network and
the Scientific Registry of Transplant Recipients are administered
by HRSA’s Healthcare Systems Bureau (HSB). Other programs
administered by HSB include the National Marrow Donor Program, the
National Cord Blood Stem Cell Bank, the National Vaccine Injury
Compensation Program, and the Smallpox Emergency Personnel Protection
1 2003 OPTN/SRTR Annual Report: Transplant Data 1992-2002.
HHS/HRSA/SPB/DOT; UNOS; URREA.