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The Waiting List

The more than 120,000 men, women and children waiting for organ transplants in the United States depend on a complex and technologically-advanced organ allocation system that links patients with donor organs.

The Organ Procurement and Transplant Network (OPTN) is a national organ sharing system established to guarantee fairness in the allocation of organs for transplant. The nonprofit United Network for Organ Sharing (UNOS) located in Richmond, Virginia, operates the OPTN under a contract with the Division of Transplantation in the Department of Health and Human Services.

UNOS maintains a central computer network containing the names of all patients waiting for kidney, heart, liver, lung, intestine, pancreas and multiple-organ transplants; the UNOS “Organ Center” is staffed 24 hours a day to respond to requests to list patients, change the status of patients, and help coordinate the placement of organs.

CORE works with UNOS as one of 58 federally-designated organ procurement organizations (OPOs), which are responsible for coordinating all organ donations. With the exception of perfectly matched kidneys and the most urgent liver patients, first priority goes to patients at transplant hospitals located in the region served by the OPO. Next in priority are patients in areas served by nearby OPOs. And finally, only if no patients in these communities can use the organ, it is offered to patients elsewhere in the U.S.

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