Organ Dontation Facts
Organ Dontation Facts

34 Revolutionary Organ Donation Facts

Madeline Thatcher
By Madeline Thatcher, Associate Writer
Published August 16, 2019
  • A new person is added to the United States national transplant waiting list every 10 minutes—that's 144 people per day.[7]
  • Each year, 8,000 people in the United States die while waiting for an organ transplant.[7]
  • There are currently 114,000 people in the United States waiting for an organ transplant.[7]
  • A kidney is the organ most often needed. Over 80% of patients on the U.S. national transplant waiting list require one.[7]
  • Corneas are the most commonly transplanted tissue; over 400,000 corneas are transplanted each year in the United States.[3]
  • Kidney Organ Donation
    Kidneys are the most requested organs and one of the easiest to donate, since donors don't have to die before they're harvested.
  • While an overwhelming majority (95%) of Americans are in favor of being an organ donor, only 58% are actually registered to do so.[7]
  • Hearts, lungs, kidneys, livers, intestines, pancreases, corneas, and tissue samples are all considered donatable organs.[9]
  • There are four types of organ donation: living donations, deceased donations, vascularized composite allografts, and pediatric.[9]
  • Organ donation began in the 19th century; the first skin transplant was performed in 1869.[8]
  • In 1954, the first successful kidney transplant was performed between identical twins. It was not until 1960 that a kidney transplant between siblings who were not twins was successfully completed.[8]
  • Organ recovery from deceased or brain-dead donors began in 1962–1963.[8]
  • The year 1967 was groundbreaking for organ donation and transplants, with the first liver, heart, and simultaneous kidney/pancreas transplants all successfully performed.[8]
  • Congress passed the National Organ Transplant Act in 1984, which prohibited the sale of human organs.[8]
  • There is no age limit for people wishing to donate their organs.[6]
  • Organ Donor Facts
    Organ donors offer patients a new chance at life—sometimes for multiple patients at once.

  • It was not until 2001 that the number of living donors exceeded the number of deceased ones in the United States.[8]
  • France was the first country to successfully perform a partial face transplant.[8]
  • Spain was the first country to successfully complete a full facial transplant.[8]
  • Over half of the patients waiting for organ donations in the United States are minorities.[6]
  • "Good Samaritan donations," or donations offered by people who have no connection to a patient on the transplant waiting list, were initially turned down by the majority of transplant centers in the United States, since many healthcare professionals distrusted their seemingly altruistic motives.[2]
  • I think you should automatically donate your organs because that would turn the balance of organ donation in a huge way. I would donate whatever anybody would take.

    - George Clooney

  • The overwhelming majority of organ donors in the United States are white.[2]
  • A quarter of pediatric patients on the waiting list are under five years old.[9]
  • Organs must be right-sized for transfers to be successful, which means that children on the organ transplant list are first priority when child organs become available.[4]
  • Many factors determine if an organ transplant will be successful: patients must have compatible blood and body types, and the required organ must have been harvested recently.[4]
  • When determining which deserving patient will receive a transfer, doctors consider both "justice" (how soon a patient needs an organ before death becomes inevitable, as well as other medical needs), and "medical utility" (how long the organ would survive in a patient and how successful a potential transfer would be).[4]
  • Heart Transplant Facts
    Heart transplants have to happen quickly in order to ensure the organ survives in a new host.
  • Seventy percent of people who undergo successful heart transplants live longer than five years.[10]
  • Organs can only last a short time outside the body before they become unusable; hearts have the shortest preservation time, 4–6 hours, while kidneys have the longest, 24–36 hours.[4]
  • All organ donations will inevitably fail. Transplanted organs "scar" overtime, eventually making them unusable.[1]
  • Medicine given to ensure transplant recipients accept their new organ can often cause severe side effects, sometimes leading to heart damage or even damage to the new organ.[1]
  • Most people can be organ donors, even if they have health complications; the only restrictions are on potential donors who have HIV, cancer, or other disease that would be difficult to treat with antibiotics and other medicines.[1]
  • Only a quarter of living donations are given by people who are unrelated to the patient.[3]
  • Organ Donation Registry
    Registering to be an organ donor is very simple, but lots of Americans who say they'd be willing to donate have not added their name to the list.
  • Kidney transplants are more successful when the organ comes from a live donor; live-donation kidneys are generally good for 15 years, whereas deceased-donor kidneys are only good for 12.[10]
  • In one study, researchers found that people who were the middle or youngest child in their immediate family were more likely to offer an organ to a stranger.[2]
  • Because the wait time for organs in the United States is so long, some patients have taken to traveling to third-world countries, where lesser-quality organs are often available for sale.[2]
  • Organ donation is becoming increasingly more common worldwide; Southeast Asia leads the world in living donors, with almost 95% of their organ donations coming from this category.[5]

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