Posted by Hiland on March 12, 2010
When patients meet the transplant center’s criteria and are accepted for transplantation, all their data is submitted to the United Network For Organ Sharing (UNOS). UNOS has been the administrative arm of the Organ Procurement and Transplantation Network (OPTN) since inception on September 30, 1986.
Currently, the members of the OPTN Board of Directors also serve as directors for UNOS. OPTN is “the unified transplant network established by the United States Congress under the National Organ Transplant Act of 1984.” According to the act, OPTN is to be operated by a unique private, non-profit organization under federal contract.
These are the 11 regional zones over which the Organ Procurement and Transplantation Network oversees all organ transplantation.
The chart below details heart transplants performed in the country’s eleven regions. 2,363 heart transplants were performed in 1995, the highest recorded annual rate. 2009 was the third consecutive year that the number of transplants decreased.
Under the National Transplant Act of 1994, the OPTN responsibilities are:
1. Increase and ensure the effectiveness, efficiency and equity of organ sharing in the national system of organ allocation.
2. Increase the supply of donated organs available for transplantation.
The role between OPTN and UNOS can be confusing, but UNOS is charged to:
1. Establish an organ sharing system that maximizes the efficient use of deceased organs through fair and timely allocations.
2. Establish a system for the collection, storage, analysis and publication of data pertaining to the patient waiting list, organ matching and transplants.
3. Provide information, consultation and guidance to persons and organizations concerned with human organ transplantation in order to increases the number of organs available for transplantation.
With this mandate, UNOS has developed UNet, an online database to provide transparent information about all transplantation data, including information about patient waiting lists, nationally, by region or by center.
UNet is a 24/7 system that allows centers to:
- Register patients for transplantation.
- Match donated organs to waiting patients.
- Manage time-sensitive, life-critical data for all patients, before and after their transplants.
All transplant programs in the country must use UNet. As of February 12, 2010, the below chart identifies the number of persons awaiting heart transplantation in the United States by region. There are many filtering options at the OPTN site. Interested persons can identify the number of waiting patients by organ, blood type, or status and by region or even by specific transplant center.
There are many factors, including blood type, status, wait time, cavity size, gender and other elements that UNOS utilizes to determine recipients of donated organs. But, that is a whole other chapter.