The United Network for Organ Sharing(UNOS), a non-profit corporation, operates the Organ Procurement and Transplantation Network(OPTN) under contract to the Department of Health and Human Services. OPTN coordinates the work of Organ Procurement Organizations(OPO’s). The OPO’s are responsible for public and professional education about organ donation, and work with hospitals and transplant centers in their service area to identify potential donors, secure consent, and efficiently distribute donated organs. OPTN maintains the national waiting list of organ transplant candidates which determines how donated organs are allocated. UNOS/OPTN and the OPO’s have done a wonderful job under the rules now in effect, but they have only been able to provide organs for about a third of those waiting for transplantation.
- Over 100,000 people are now on the waiting list for a transplant.
- On average, 19 people die every day because no organ became available for them.
- For every person who is removed from the waiting list, two are added.
Although 85% of Americans support organ donation, actual donation rates continue to be too low. One reason for this is that too often, family members do not know the wishes of their loved ones. Faced with the decision at the time of a tragic event, they do not consent to donation. In many jurisdictions, even when it is known what the individual’s wishes are, the family is still allowed to override that decision. And, despite regulations that require hospitals to report all deaths to an OPO, as many as 15% are never referred.
- Enforce all “Required Referral” laws and regulations
- Make it illegal for anyone to override an individual’s wish to be a donor (as evidenced by a Donor Card or by not opting out of a presumed consent system)
- Change the system to what much of the rest of world uses: Presumed Consent