Many wait for organ donations
There are nearly 20,000 patients awaiting organ transplants, yet there are only half that number of donors in the U.S. Who gets the transplants, and who might die waiting?
According to the United Network of Organ Sharing (UNOS), most patients awaiting transplants die while on the list. It’s a sad thought but the fact is there just aren’t enough people willing to donate.
With a matter of life and death to consider, UNOS and the Organ Procurement Transplant Network (OPTN) have set up some guidelines shown on their websites for transplant hospitals to follow.
The biggest factor in the decision is the patient’s blood and tissue type. If it doesn’t match, then the organ won’t work.
Medical urgency is another issue. The sicker the patients, the higher on the list they end up.
The third biggest reason is proximity. Organs are donated to local patients before being offered to people in the region and in the country. This is to make sure that the organ doesn’t go bad over the time it takes to get the organ to the patient.
What about age? This is the first thing that comes to most people’s minds when they think of who should get the organ first. Should it be the dying retiree or the sick preschooler?
UNOS has no set guideline for this aspect. They only specify that many hospitals have a special priority to children. Most people agree that this is best considering how many years the child could live with a new heart or lung.
We applaud the efforts of UNOS and OPTN and the hospitals in their difficult decision making. It seems that they’ve found the best way to pick the right patient. We can only hope that there will be more donors in the future, but for now this system works.
Unsigned editorials represent the majority opinion of the editorial board.