It is a simple fact that without donors there can be no transplants.

It is also a fact that while the number of eligible transplant candidates swells to over 65,000 (and higher), the number of donor organs stays at a relatively fixed level of approximately 10,000 per year.

Only two organs are controlled by what is known as a Status Level System, where as the patient gets sicker, he (or she) moves higher up the waiting list.  These organs are the heart and liver.  Multiple organ transplants are also sometimes covered this way.  The late ex-Governor Robert Casey of Pennsylvania is an example (albeit a somewhat infamous one).

All other organs, including lungs, are allocated on a basically "time-on-list" method, with the added complexity of the candidate's position within various categories of eligibility such as size, blood type (and at some centers CMV status), that determine the exact recipient for a given donor organ.  Of course, this is the way it is SUPPOSED to work.

This entire system is administered by U.N.O.S., the United Network for Organ Sharing (

Obviously, the process of getting a transplant is fraught with administrative complexities that are in place solely to try to allocate what few donor organs there are.

These problems go away if there are enough donor organs.

For every two or three successful transplants, there is likely to be a failed one.  But for each, there is a grieving donor family that made an extremely difficult decision at a time of almost incomprehensible grief.  For that selfless act, all transplant candidates, recipients and their families must offer a heartfelt:

Thank You.
Without the benevolence of organ donors and their families, we that depend on a tissue or organ transplant to live would die.  I offer to the families of those who have departed the sincere commitment that their acts will not be forgotten, for it is through their loss that we now survive.  Yet, in some not insignificant way, the spirit and perhaps even the memory of their loved ones continues to live on, in us.  For this reason, I dedicate my life to the goal that:

Donor families and their acts of selfless love
shall not be forgotten.

Join me in a warm embrace of the real heroes in this war--tissue and organ donors and their families.


Copyright © 2000-2006 Roger W. Stevens
All Rights Reserved.