How organ donation works in the United States – NBC4 Washington

There are more than 100,000 people in the United States is waiting for an organ transplant, according to the United Network for Organ Exchange, known as UNOS.

“I was born with type 1 diabetes,” said Patrick McGlone, who underwent a double kidney and pancreas transplant in June 2021. – The word “transplantation” was always heard. But I never thought it was possible.”

You can wait a long time due to the lack of organs. Only slightly more than 50% of people According to UNOS, those waiting for an organ will receive one within five years.

UNOS is a private, non-profit organization that collects all clinical information on US transplant candidates in its computer waiting list. Since 1986, it has held a government contract to manage the organ donation process and coordinate with all other organizations involved.

The US organ donation system is designed to save as many lives as possible without losing organs, but there are inequities within the system that raise questions of fairness.

People of color, people of lower socioeconomic status, and women are less likely to receive transplants than the general population, and are also more likely to wait longer for an organ than patients with similar medical problems.

“The biggest equity challenge in transplant is the same as in all of American health care: getting access to the hospital in the first place,” said Brian Shepard, former CEO of UNOS. “Transplantation is not immune to any of these inequities.”

“I think a lot of people think about organ transplants and think it’s an issue for the elderly,” said Arthur Kaplan, director of the Division of Medical Ethics at NYU Grossman School of Medicine. “If you increase the number of transplants that we do, you can have a much more productive workforce. It saves money. . . . So, it’s a pocket problem for all of us.”

“It’s amazing to say that the surgery saved me money,” McGlone said. “Diabetes care, between supplies and regular visits and lab work and all the things you have to do. There are many [out-of-pocket costs] even with good insurance.”

The industry recognizes the importance of finding alternatives to the use of organs from deceased donors to address the shortage in the country. One method is to encourage kidney donation from living donors.

“People have different opinions about it, but honestly, it was the easiest process for me and for everyone,” said Kathryn Manor, who donated her kidney on behalf of her mentor. “It was very easy for me.”

“You might think we could do a campaign and get more people to do it, and you might,” Kaplan said. “But really, most of us sitting around are not going to donate a kidney to someone we don’t know. It’s a big deal.”

Research is currently underway into using animal organs, such as pigs, as well as creating mechanical organs to try to make up for the shortage.

“Even though we’re all fascinated by transplantation, the ultimate goal is to get rid of it,” Kaplan said. “What you want to do is either repair with cellular engineering or artificial organs that can simply replace natural organs that have failed.”

Follow up video above to learn more about how the organ transplant system works and what we can do to increase supply while addressing inequities.

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