More than 116,000 people in the U.S. are waiting to receive a life-saving organ transplant. An organ transplant replaces a failing organ with a healthy organ from another person.
Getting on the national organ transplant waiting list
For most patients who need a transplant, the first step is to get on the OPTN/UNOS national transplant waiting list. Most transplant candidates usually wait for some length of time because there are not enough donor organs for all who need them. Read frequently asked questions >
Here are the necessary steps to get on the national waiting list:
- Your physician must give you a referral.
- Contact a transplant hospital. Learn as much as possible about the 200+ transplant hospitals in the United States and choose one based on your needs, including insurance, location, finances and support group availability.
- Schedule an appointment for an evaluation and find out if you are a good candidate for transplant.
- During the evaluation, ask questions to learn as much as possible about that hospital and its transplant team.
- If the hospital’s transplant team determines that you are a good transplant candidate, they will add you to the national waiting list. UNOS will not notify you when you have been added to the list. Your transplant hospital will notify you within 10 days to inform you about your date of listing.
Waiting for your transplant
The shortage of organs causes most patients to wait for a transplant. Waiting times vary widely for many reasons. Contrary to popular belief, waiting for a transplant is not like taking a number and waiting your turn. In some respects, even the word “list” is misleading because the list is really a giant pool of patients. When a deceased organ donor is identified, UNOS’ computer system generates a ranked list of transplant candidates who are suitable to receive each organ. Matching is the key to connecting individuals waiting for a lifesaving transplant with compatible donor organs.
Technology for transplantation
Running the nation’s transplant network requires a complex computer system. UNet is the secure Internet-based transplant information database created by UNOS for the nation’s organ transplant centers and OPOs to register patients for transplants, match donated organs to transplant candidates and manage the critical data of all patients.