OPTN Statement Clarifying National Organ Donation Trends
Recent comments in a national media broadcast may have created a misleading impression on trends in organ donation in the United States. It is important to view the context of separate trends in donation from deceased and living donors.
Deceased donation occurs after a medically suitable person has been declared dead and consent is given for donation. The donation process is managed by one of 58 organ procurement organizations nationwide, each of which serves a designated area of the country. Commonly one deceased donor can provide multiple organs for transplantation into multiple recipients.
According to current OPTN data, there were 8,126 deceased donors nationwide in 2011. This was the highest annual total of deceased donors in U.S. history. It represents an increase of more than 25 percent since 2003, when a number of collaborative initiatives involving the federal government and the transplant community began to identify and share best practices to enhance donation and transplantation. Also in 2011, 22,518 transplants were made possible through these donations, again an all-time record for deceased donor transplants in U.S. history.
Living donation occurs when a person volunteers to undergo surgery to remove all or part of an organ to help a person in need of a transplant, most commonly a recipient with a family or social relationship to the donor. The evaluation and transplant process is coordinated by one of 246 transplant hospitals nationwide. In almost every instance, one living donor provides one organ for transplantation into one recipient.
Trends in living donation have varied over the last few years. They are entirely dependent on the number of people who volunteer and give informed consent for elective donation surgery, and the subset of those people whom a transplant center determines to be suitable to donate and compatible with a recipient. According to current OPTN data, in 2011 there were 6,020 living donors nationwide. This is approximately 15 percent lower than the record total of 7,004 in 2004, but there is considerable variation from year to year. It is not uncommon to see 300 to 400 more or less living donors from one year to the next.
It is important for anyone considering living donation to carefully weigh the risks and benefits of living donation, so they may make an informed decision. More information about living donation is available at: http://www.organdonor.gov/about/livedonation.html.