Amidst debate over federal changes to the organ donation and transplantation industry, the United Network for Organ Sharing (UNOS) announced that the United States is on track to exceed 40,000 organ transplants by the year-end. This represents an 11% increase in the number of organ transplants from deceased donors from the previous year. These are world-leading transplantation rates and attest to the generosity of Americans during these trying times.
Because organ procurement organizations (OPOs) believe they can do even better, the Association of Organ Procurement Organizations (AOPO) has committed to 50,000 annual transplants by 2026. Success will be achieved through community-wide improvement by expanding collaborations among OPOs and stakeholders, reducing health inequities to improve access in diverse and underserved communities, maximizing organ utilization by transplant centers, and driving research and innovations.
The national donation community is on the cusp of groundbreaking innovations, including automated hospital organ donor referrals, new technologies for organ preservation, and drone aircrafts to transport organs, which has the potential to drastically improve the productivity of organ donation and transplantation. Stakeholders are working tirelessly to keep this forward momentum.
Evidence shows that these efforts are working. Nationally, since 2015, deceased organ donation has increased 38%, organs recovered by OPOs has increased 34%, and organs transplanted from deceased donors has increased 32%. Additionally, donation after cardiac death (DCD), an innovative method implemented by OPOs to procure organs from a donor who has suffered a neurological injury but does not meet brain death criteria, has increased an unprecedented 118% over the last five years. These significant successes over a short period of time have led to more patient lives saved on the national transplant waiting list.
Also promising, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) has extended a contract to facilitate a National Kidney Learning Collaborative. This national effort will share highly effective practices of donor hospitals, OPOs, and transplant centers. The educational program is expected to increase the number of deceased donor kidneys transplanted by 15%, decrease the current national discard rate from 20% to 15%, and increase kidneys recovered from medically complex donors by 14%.
OPOs are dedicated to ensuring every organ possible is available for transplantation. Together, with donor families, hospitals, and transplant programs, OPOs continue to pursue the day when every donation opportunity results in a life saved. Please do your part by ensuring you have registered to be a donor at RegisterMe.org.