United Network for Organ Sharing

In furtherance to my previous blog on organ transplantation I am going to tell you a little bit about the United Network for Organ Sharing (UNOS).  Even though many will not think that organ transplantation is a crisis it is in many ways and unfortunately the great need for organs and the potential for losing lives is not often discussed or made public. 

The United States had long been in need of a service to facilitate organ transplants when UNOS was established in 1984 to fulfill that purpose. Its first federal contract was awarded in 1986 for the purpose of operating the Organ Procurement and Transplantation Network (OPTN). Even though the OPTN is its primary activity, UNOS has taken steps and gone above and beyond, providing services and as it works in concert with America’s organ transplant and procurement community towards advancing and saving as many lives as possible. This is the beauty of these two working together.

UNOS has developed its potential, designing services for transplant professionals and the patients they serve. They have also fostered other services, promoting their mission to save lives through transplantation.

Included in the list of services that UNOS offers are research and technology; communications; conference planning; education and advertising.

Unfortunately, despite the continuing efforts to educate the public, common myths of organ donation have developed along with misconceptions and inaccuracies.  The reality is that if even one person decides against donation because they don’t know the truth a tragedy will result.

As an example, one myth is that only hearts, livers, and kidneys can be transplanted.  The fact is that in addition to these vital organs, pancreas and intestines are also needed in addition to tissue from the eyes, skin, bone, heart valves and tendons.

Another myth is that if an emergency room doctor is aware you are a donor, lifesaving efforts will not be extended to save you.  This could not be further from the truth for a hospital’s number one priority is to save your life. Only after brain death has been declared by a physician can organ transplantation be considered.  There are a number of states that have adopted legislation to allow persons to legally authorize their wish to be a donor should brain death occur.  However, there are many states where the consent from the donor’s family may be required.

Next: things you did not know about the organ transplant process.

United Network for Organ Sharing Retrieved April 26, 2013 from http://unos.org/

 

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