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About the OPTN


The Organ Procurement and Transplantation Network (OPTN) is a unique public-private partnership that links all professionals involved in the U.S. donation and transplantation system. Also crucial to the system are individuals who sign organ donor cards, people who comment on policy proposals and countless volunteers who support donation and transplantation, among many others.

A driving force of the OPTN is to improve the U.S. system so that more life-saving organs are available for transplant. Patient safety is at the forefront of activities at transplant hospitals, organ procurement organizations (OPOs) and labs.

The OPTN acts through its Board of Directors and committees, who bring a wealth of commitment and technical knowledge to guide us. Committees address issues of concern in the transplant community. The board establishes and maintains transplant policies (operational rules) and bylaws (membership requirements) that govern the OPTN.

Volunteer with the OPTN

Share your time and expertise to help the donation and transplant community save and enhance lives. Join the more than 300 volunteers who help shape OPTN policies and continuously improve the nation’s transplant system.

Apply to become a volunteer

History & NOTA

To address the nation's critical organ donation shortage and improve the organ matching and placement process, the U.S. Congress passed the National Organ Transplant Act (NOTA; P.L. 98-507) in 1984. The act established the Organ Procurement and Transplantation Network (OPTN) to maintain a national registry for organ matching. The act also called for the network to be operated by a private, non-profit organization under federal contract.

Following further study and recommendations from a task force commissioned through NOTA, the U.S.Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) solicited proposals in 1986 for the operation ofthe OPTN.

In 2000, The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) implemented a final rule establishing a regulatory framework for the structure and operations of the OPTN.

Learn about the OPTN Final Rule

Vision and Goals of the OPTN

The OPTN promotes long, healthy and productive lives for persons with organ failure by promoting maximized organ supply, effective and safe care, and equitable organ allocation and access to transplantation; and doing so by balancing competing goals in ways that are transparent, inclusive, and enhance public trust in the national organ donation system.

With all of our collective efforts focused on patients, the goals of the OPTN are to:

  • Increase the number of transplants
  • Provide equity in access to transplants
  • Improve waitlisted patient, living donor, and transplant recipient outcomes
  • Promote living donor and transplant recipient safety
  • Promote the efficient management of the OPTN
View the OPTN strategic plan

OPTN Contractor

United Network for Organ Sharing (UNOS) was awarded the initial OPTN contract on September 30, 1986, and continues to administer the OPTN today.