Evaluation

Patients who need a transplant are evaluated by the medical team at a transplant hospital. If accepted as a transplant candidate, the transplant hospital adds a patient’s medical information into United Network for Organ Sharing’s (UNOS) computer system that contains the organ transplant waiting list for the United States and Puerto Rico.

Prioritization

When a deceased organ donor is identified, UNOS’ computer system automatically screens off candidates who are incompatible with the donor because of blood type, height, weight and other medical factors. It then generates a ranked list of transplant candidates, based on blood type, tissue type, medical urgency, waiting time, expected benefit, geography and other medical factors.

Only medical and logistical factors are used in organ matching. Personal or social characteristics such as celebrity status, income or insurance coverage play no role in transplant priority.

Proper organ size is critical to a successful transplant, which means that children often respond better to smaller organs. Although pediatric candidates have their own unique scoring system, children are essentially first in line for other children’s organs.

Allocation

Blood type and other medical factors weigh into the allocation of every donated organ, but each organ type has a unique set of factors for allocation (distribution).

  • Kidney

    • Waiting time

    • Donor and recipient immune system compatibility

    • Prior living donor

    • Distance from donor hospital

    • Survival benefit

    • Pediatric status

  • Liver

    • Medical urgency

    • Distance from donor hospital

    • Pediatric status

Rehabilitation

After transplant, recipients need to do everything possible to stay healthy and prevent rejection.

Most patients recover fully and resume a normal, active life after receiving a new organ. However, there is a possibility of developing unrelated health problems after transplantation. That's why it is important for recipients to work closely with their doctor concerning overall wellness.

After transplants, patients learn how to manage medications to prevent rejection and their side effects as part of daily life. They undergo regular tests to determine their health status and detect early signs of rejection or infection.

The drugs that help prevent rejection of a new organ also slow down the body's immune system, thus affecting the body's defense against germs. Transplant recipients can therefore get infections more easily because their immune systems are suppressed. It is also more difficult for transplant recipients to recover from infections, and minor infections can become very serious and even lead to death if untreated.

 


A second chance

Organ donation has given many a new lease on life, and to many more, an extension that would have otherwise been impossible. For families, this means a chance of growing, and for individuals, a chance of living.