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U.S. reaches historic milestone of 1 million organ transplants

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The Alliance is proud to be part of organ donation and transplant system that made it possible; joins national Living It Forward initiative to advance next million 

The U.S. organ donation system surpassed 1 million organ transplants as of Friday, September 9, 2022, the United Network for Organ Sharing (UNOS) has announced. The Organ Donation and Transplantation Alliance, a member of the nationwide organ donation and transplant system responsible for reaching the historic milestone, credits the collaboration, innovation and passion of its fellow members for making it possible.

The Alliance joins in advancing Living It Forward, a national initiative led by UNOS in partnership with the transplant community to further accelerate the pace of donation and commemorate the lives saved, legacies honored and hope restored.

A record-breaking 41,000+ transplants were performed nationwide in 2021, more than double the rate from 25 years ago. 2021 was also the 11th consecutive record-setting year for organ donation from deceased donors. Liver and heart transplants continue to set annual all-time volume records – for the past 9 and 10 years, respectively.

“The organ donation and transplant community has made lifesaving history together,” says Jerry McCauley, M.D., M.P.H., president of the UNOS Board of Directors. “Now, we invite donor families, organ transplant candidates and recipients, living organ donors and others touched by transplant to join Living It Forward and honor and celebrate the gifts that made this important milestone possible.”

“The Alliance is dedicated to continuously working with the community of practice to identify effective practices and quickly share them in order to increase the number of successful transplants every single day. We are proud of this important milestone and commit to accelerating the improvements as we look to the future,” said Ana Hands, M.D., Chair of the Board of Directors of The Alliance.

Of the million U.S. transplants performed, more than half have occurred since 2007. This demonstrates a sustained trend of system-wide increases made possible by the ongoing strengthening of organ allocation policies, an increasing focus on non-traditional donors, collaborative efforts to increase donation, the continuous evolution of organ preservation techniques and other scientific breakthroughs.

Continuous system-wide improvement is also marked by greater equity in access to transplant, especially in kidney allocation, which accounts for more than 60 percent of total transplants. As of 2021, 58 percent of all kidney recipients are patients of color – a 25 percent increase from 1988 that is fueled by numerous policy and performance improvements, including the elimination of race-based calculations relative to kidney function.

The Alliance programming has expanded significantly to emphasize improvements in diversity, equity and inclusion.  A curated listing of all resources can be found here and over time more information will continue to be added.

Visit LivingItForward.org to read stories about some of the people behind the 1 million and see how they are Living It Forward.

The Alliance also encourages everyone to become part of our community by registering to be an organ donor – 1 person can save up to 8 lives through organ donation and change the lives of as many as 75 through tissue donation, which is crucial since only 2 percent of deaths meet the criteria for someone to become a donor. The need is great; more than 100,000 people are on the transplant waitlist.

Please register today at RegisterMe.org

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