Health Services Utilization

Organ Transplantation

In 2005, there were 28,106 organ transplants in the Unites States. Since 1988, there have been 364,533 transplants, with the number increasing each year. In 2005, the gender distribution among organ donors was almost even (7,246 females and 7,244 males donated organs). Females were more likely than males to donate organs while alive (59.1 percent of living donors were female).

However, the need for donated organs greatly exceeds their availability, so waiting lists for organs are growing. As of March 3, 2006, there were 90,997 people awaiting the opportunity for a life-saving organ transplant. Females composed 41.9 percent of those patients waiting and only 37.9 percent of those who received a transplant in 2005. Among women waiting on the list, 47.4 percent were White, 28.9 percent were Black, and 15.9 percent were Hispanic. The kidney is the organ in highest demand, with 27,382 females awaiting a kidney as of March 3, 2006.

The number of organs donated remained roughly static from 1990-2003. Beginning in 2003, the donation community began to work together through the Organ Donation Breakthrough Collaborative and other grassroots efforts to increase donation. In 2004, donations increased by an unprecedented 12 percent over the previous year, and in 2005 they increased yet again by another 9 percent, resulting in an additional 2,000 lives saved or enhanced through transplantation. One of the challenges of organ donation is obtaining consent from the donor family or legal surrogate. Some of the reasons consent rates vary include religious perception, 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.1

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 Act Program.

1 2003 OPTN/SRTR Annual Report: Transplant Data 1992-2002. HHS/HRSA/SPB/DOT; UNOS; URREA.

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Women's Health USA 2006 is not copyrighted. Readers are free to duplicate and use all or part of the information contained on this page. Suggested Citation: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Health Resources and Services Administration, Women's Health USA 2006. Rockville, Maryland: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, 2006.