OPO's and UNOS
Organ Procurement Organization (OPO)
An organ procurement organization (OPO) is charged donor management and with matching organs from a patient who has died with an individual awaiting an organ transplant. Each of the 69 OPOs across the United States has been designated an organ procurement centers by the federal government.
The process begins when a hospital affiliated with the OPO calls to say a potential organ donor has been identified. A procurement coordinator then talks to the family about organ donation. If the family agrees, the coordinator calls the United Network for Organ Sharing (UNOS) and provides information about the donor which is added to the national computerized registry in an effort to match the organ donor with a waiting transplant recipient.
The Role of the OPO Coordinator
The OPO coordinator notifies a transplant coordinator or surgeon when a suitable recipient is found. The transplant team reviews the information about the organ being offered and if it is deemed suitable, the organ is accepted for transplantation at the recipient's transplant center.
An operating room for the recovery of the donor organ(s) is scheduled by the OPO coordinator. The coordinator also oversees the medical evaluation of each organ and assists in its surgical recovery.
Once the organ offered by the coordinator is accepted by the transplant center, the transplant center coordinator calls the potential recipient and lines up the operating room and coordinates the transportation of the organ procurement surgical team to the transplantation center.
Organ Procurement and Transplantation Network (OPTN)
The Organ Procurement and Transplantation Network (OPTN) is the unified transplant network established by the United States Congress. OPTN links all of the professionals involved in the donation and transplantation system. The organization was established to increase the effectiveness, efficiency and equity of organ sharing and increase the supply of donated organs available for transplantation.
Click here for more information about OPTN.
United Network of Organ Sharing (UNOS)
UNOS maintains the computerized database of every patient waiting for any kind of organ transplant in the United States. This ensures the latest data is on hand and that all transplant centers and patients have equal access to available organs. All of the organ recover organizations in the US are members of UNOS.
When a coordinator from an organ procurement organization contacts UNOS, UNOS enters the data from the organ donor including: blood type, medical history, physical measurements. From this information a list of likely transplant recipients is generated. The list is printed in order of matching priority, which includes medical criteria, length of time waiting, blood type, body weight, size of recipient diseased organ, and severity of illness. Kidney and pancreas recipients are also matched by tissue (genetic) typing.
If the first transplant candidate isn’t a good medical match for the organ being offered, the OPO coordinator continues the search in a specific region – or potentially elsewhere in the country – looking for the next best match.
Click here for more information about UNOS and the work they do.