As of Oct. 6, 2008, more than 100,000 people were registered awaiting an organ transplant from a deceased donor at U.S. transplant centers. This is the first time that threshold has been exceeded.
The kidney is the organ most commonly needed and most commonly transplanted. More than 400,000 people in the United States are being treated for end-stage kidney failure, and of those more than 76,000 are listed for a deceased donor kidney transplant. The kidney waiting list has increased by 42 percent since January 2004, while the liver list has decreased by four percent and the heart list has decreased by 23 percent over the same time period.
This occurs at a time when the overall number of transplants has increased more than 11 percent since 2003, and reported deaths on the transplant wait list have decreased each year since 2004. Yet this milestone serves as a reminder to us all of the growing need, and of the opportunity for society to help meet the need through donation.
Many efforts continue to increase organ donation and recover as many usable organs as possible from these donors. These include HRSA-sponsored collaboratives to identify and share best practices, ongoing awareness campaigns such as those conducted by Donate Life America, and numerous professional education and community-based awareness initiatives.
NOTE: At any given moment, not all patients who are listed are actively awaiting a transplant. Those who are in inactive status have been evaluated and accepted by a transplant center. They are not actively eligible for an organ offer due to their current health status, incomplete insurance/financial arrangements or other reasons. These individuals could be reactivated by their transplant center at any time without losing priority for an organ offer. Both active and inactive candidates are reflected in statistics of those who die awaiting transplantation (nearly 6,700 in 2007).