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The Waiting List

How Does the Organ Transplant Waiting List Work?

United Network for Organ Sharing (UNOS) is a private, non-profit organization that manages the nation's organ transplant system and waiting list. UNOS works with donation and transplant professionals to make life-saving organ transplants possible and is committed to a fair and equitable process.

UNOS, which is under contract with the federal government, matches donors and recipients using a complex process that involves all organ procurement organizations (including Gift of Life Michigan) and hospital transplant centers (nine programs in Michigan). When prioritizing patients for transplantation, medical factors, size of the organ and distance from the donor hospital are considered; geography is especially important for organs such as hearts and lungs, which have less time to be transplanted. Personal or social characteristics such as income or celebrity status do not factor into organ matching.

Organ Donation Statistics

Nearly 107,000 people are currently waiting for an organ transplant nationally, and a new person is added to the waiting list every 10 minutes.

Of those on the waiting list, about 2,500 are Michigan residents. The number waiting remains high because there aren’t enough donated organs to meet the need for transplants; in fact, only a small percentage of people die in a way that makes organ donation medically possible. Because of this, it is critical that every opportunity for donation is acted upon and that anyone who supports organ donation registers to be an organ donor.

 

Michigan residents waiting for organs

Last year, the generosity of Michigan's 374 organ donors resulted in 1,047 life-saving organ transplants. Another 1,549 donors provided the gift of tissue for thousands of patients in need. 

So far this year, Michigan donors have provided 759 organs and countless tissues for transplant.

Michigan patients waiting for a transplant as of Sept. 1, 2021:

Kidney2,043
Liver195
Heart118
Lung39
Pancreas18
Kidney/Pancreas28
Kidney/Liver22
Kidney/Heart6
Liver/Pancreas/Intestine3
Intestine1
TOTAL2,472