Who is on the Transplant Waiting List?

Sadly, there are more people waiting for organ transplants than there are organs available. The United Network for Organ Sharing (UNOS) is the organization which oversees how donated organs are allocated. Their system for matching organs with recipients is designed to be as fair as possible with a very limited resource.

The UNOS Transplant Waiting List is “the list” often cited in media articles and is even the source of the number at the top of this website. The Wait List includes patients who are waiting for transplants all across the country and is far more complex than it may sound.

Information about patients is updated regularly by a patient’s transplant center. When a donor organ comes available, Wait List data and data about the organ are run through a sophisticated algorithm to generate a prioritized, numbered list of the patients who:

  1. Need the transplant the most, and
  2. Will benefit from it most, and
  3. Are the best match for each organ

There are many aspects that factor into the algorithm, including the matching characteristics between the donor and recipient (body size, blood type, medical considerations etc.), how sick the listed person is, the length of time the listed person has been waiting and how long the organ can go before arriving for transplantation. Wealth and celebrity status are never considered.

Neither Donate Life Texas nor the organizations that recover organs, eyes and tissues have any input into the order in which patients are listed or how organs are allocated.