The process of determining how organs are distributed. Allocation includes the system of policies and guidelines that ensure organs are distributed in an equitable, ethical, and medically sound manner.
An allograft is a transplant of an organ or tissue that comes from another person of the same species.
A protein substance made by the body's immune system to attack a foreign substance, such as a transplanted organ. Because antibodies attack transplanted organs, transplant patients must take medications that reduce the body's ability to attack the transplanted organ. See anti-rejection medicine.
A foreign substance, such as a transplanted organ or tissue, that triggers the body to reject it.
Anti-rejection medicine (immunosuppressive drugs)
Medicines that reduce the body's ability to reject a transplanted organ.
A condition in which the heart beats too slow, too fast, or with an irregular pattern.
The duct that carries bile from the liver and gallbladder to the small intestines (duodenum).
The removal of a small piece of tissue from your body for examination under a microscope.
Brain death occurs when the brain is totally and irreversibly nonfunctional. Brain death can occur when the brain’s supply of oxygenated blood is too low, causing the brain cells to die.
A person who has been declared dead and whose organ or organs and/or tissues have been donated for transplantation (also called deceased donor).
A patient who has been placed on the national waiting list for solid organ transplantation.
The heart suddenly stops beating.
Disease that increases the size of the heart muscle or makes it thicker than normal.
A flexible tube that is used to remove body fluids or inject medicines into the body.
Cold ischemia time
The time an organ is without blood circulation and is kept cold—from the time the organ is removed from the donor to the time it is transplanted into the recipient. In surgery, the time between the chilling of an organ after its blood supply has been reduced or cut off and the time it is warmed by having its blood supply restored. This can occur while the organ is still in the body or after it is removed from the body if the organ is to be used for transplantation.
Medicine that slows down your body’s immune system and helps prevent your new organ from being rejected. It is also called a "steroid." A common corticosteroid is prednisone.
A substance found in the blood, urine, and muscle tissue. Your healthcare provider can measure your level of creatinine to determine how well your kidneys are working.
A blood test performed before a transplant to find out if the specific donor organ to be transplanted is likely to be rejected by the prospective recipient. If the test is positive, the donor and recipient are incompatible and the transplant is unlikely to be performed with an organ from that donor.
A person who has been declared dead and whose organs and/or tissues have been donated for transplantation (also called cadaveric donor).
Defined in the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Conditions of Participation as an individual who has completed a course offered or approved by the OPO and designed in conjunction with the tissue and eye bank community in the methodology for approaching potential donor families and requesting organ donation. The interpretation of this rule allows for some degree of flexibility.
The act of giving organ(s), tissue(s), or blood to someone else without compensation.
A disease in which the pancreas does not produce enough insulin, preventing glucose in the blood from being processed properly. This results in high levels of glucose in the blood.
A mechanical process designed to remove toxic substances from the blood, including correcting the balance of fluids and chemicals in the body and removing waste when the kidneys are unable to do so. See hemodialysis and peritoneal dialysis.
A confidential electronic database in which individuals can enter and store their wish to be an organ and tissue donor. Most registries have enrollment capacity through the department of motor vehicles and many also have online registry portals. Because registry information is accessible on a 24/7 basis to authorized procurement personnel, it is the safest and quickest way to determine if a deceased individual wanted to be a donor.
End-stage renal disease (ESRD)
The complete or almost complete failure of the kidneys to function. The kidneys can no longer remove waste, concentrate urine, or regulate many other important bodily functions.
A disease or disorder that is inherited.
A transplanted organ or tissue.
The length of time an organ functions successfully after being transplanted.
A muscular organ that pumps blood through the body. The heart can be donated and transplanted.
A test that measures the number of red blood cells in the blood.
A treatment for kidney failure in which the patient's blood is passed through a filtering membrane to remove excess fluid and waste.
Excessive hair growth on the face or body. A side effect of some anti-rejection medicines.
The examination or testing of antigens to determine if a donor organ will “match” and be compatible with a potential recipient. This routine test is often called tissue-typing and helps identify the most suitable recipient for a donated organ.
Human leukocyte antigens (HLA)
A genetically determined series of markers (molecules) located on human white blood cells (leukocytes) and on tissues that are inherited from both biological parents. HLA matching is important for compatibility between donor and recipient.
High blood pressure.
Relating to an organ being damaged or destroyed by a disease or condition of unknown origin.
The body's natural defense against foreign objects or organisms that invade the body, such as bacteria or transplanted organs.
Immunosuppressant drugs (also called anti-rejection drugs)
Medication that causes the human body not to produce antibodies that normally fight off foreign material in the body. The production of these antibodies needs to be suppressed in order to permit the acceptance of a donor organ by the recipient's body.
A slowing down of the body’s immune system’s response by medicines that help prevent rejection of the transplanted organ.
A reaction that occurs as a result of infection or injury to cells.
The process of reaching a voluntary agreement based on a full disclosure and full understanding of what will take place. Informed consent often refers to the process of making decisions regarding participation in research as well as undergoing medical procedures, including the decision to donate the organs of a loved one.
A pair of organs that maintain proper water and electrolyte balance, regulate acid-base concentration, and filter metabolic waste, which is excreted as urine. Kidneys can be donated by deceased and living donors.
The removal of a kidney through small incisions using small surgical instruments through a tube-like device that has a tiny camera on it.
A large reddish-brown organ that secretes bile and is active in the formation of certain blood proteins and in the metabolism of carbohydrates, fats, and proteins. The liver, like the kidneys, assists in the removal of waste and toxins from the bloodstream. The liver can be donated by deceased donors, and a liver lobe (section) can be provided by a living donor to be transplanted. The donor's liver will grow to full size, as will the transplanted lobe.
A person who donates an organ or tissue while alive.
Lymphocytotoxic crossmatch test
A blood test performed before the transplant to see if the transplant recipient will react to the donor organ. A positive crossmatch means there are antibodies that may cause rejection and, therefore, the donor organ is not suitable for transplantation.
The degree of compatibility or likeness between a donor and a recipient.
The list that is generated when an organ donor's information is entered into the national waiting list computer system to identify potential recipients.
A condition or disease related to dysfunction in the chemical processes and activities of the body (ie, metabolism).
National Organ Transplant Act (NOTA)
Passed by Congress in 1984, NOTA initiated the development of a national system of organ sharing and a scientific registry to collect and report transplant data. It also outlawed the sale of human organs in the United States.
A part of the body, made up of various tissues, which performs a particular function. Organs that can be transplanted include the heart, intestines, liver, lungs, kidneys, and pancreas.
Giving an organ or a part of an organ to be transplanted into another person. Organ donation can occur with a deceased donor, who can give kidneys, pancreas, liver, lungs, heart, and intestinal organs; and with a living donor, who can give a kidney or a portion of the liver, lung, or intestine.
Methods used to maintain the quality of organs between removal from the donor and transplantation into the recipient. These methods include preservation solutions, pumps, and cold storage. Preservation times can vary from 2 to 48 hours depending on the type of organ being preserved.
Organ Procurement and Transplantation Network (OPTN)
In 1984, Congress passed the National Organ Transplant Act, which mandated the establishment of the OPTN and Scientific Registry of Transplant Recipients. The purpose of the OPTN is to improve the effectiveness of the nation's organ procurement, donation, and transplantation system by increasing the availability of and access to donor organs for patients with end-stage organ failure. The act stipulated that the network be a nonprofit, private sector entity whose members are all United States transplant centers, organ procurement organizations, and histocompatibility laboratories. The OPTN is administered by UNOS under contract to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
Organ Procurement Organizations (OPO)
Local organizations throughout the United States, designated by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS), that are responsible for increasing the number of registered donors in their service areas, and for coordinating the donation process when actual donors become available. OPOs evaluate potential donors, discuss donation with surviving family members, and arrange for the surgical removal and transport of donated organs. To increase donor registration, OPOs implement community outreach strategies to encourage people to sign up in their state donor registry. Find your local OPO.
A transplant in which an organ is removed and the transplanted organ is placed in the same location.
A process of filtering waste using the peritoneal membrane inside the abdomen. The abdomen is filled with special solutions that help remove toxins. The solutions remain in the abdomen for a time and then are drained out. This form of dialysis can be performed at home, but must be done every day.
The surgical procedure of removing an organ from a donor.
The person receiving the donated organ or tissue.
Rejection (acute and chronic)
The body's way of protecting itself against a foreign invader, such as infectious germs. The body sees a transplanted organ as a foreign invader and attempts to destroy it. Acute rejection happens very quickly; chronic rejection is the slow failure of a donated organ to function.
Having to do with the kidneys.
Scientific Registry of Transplant Recipients (SRTR)
The purpose of the SRTR is to provide evaluation of clinical information about donors, transplant candidates and recipients, as well as patient and graft survival rates.
The degree of medical urgency for patients awaiting heart or liver transplants.
A procedure in which the tissues of a prospective donor and recipient are tested to identify human leukocyte antigens (HLA).
The transfer of an organ from one person to another.
A transplant center staff member responsible for managing the care and progress of potential transplant recipients before, during, and after the transplantation.
A person who has received an organ transplant.
United Network for Organ Sharing (UNOS)
The private, nonprofit membership organization that coordinates the national matching system. UNOS has established and continually strives to improve tools, systems, and quality processes.
The main chambers of the heart; left and right.
A type of germ that causes infection.
A national database maintained by the OPTN of all patients waiting for an organ transplant.
White blood cell
A type of cell in the blood that participates in immunity and inflammation.
An organ or tissue transplanted into a human from a non-human animal.