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The Importance of Organ Donation

Every day, about 18 people in the United States die while waiting for an organ transplant. For people whose organs are failing because of disease or injury, donated organs and tissue may offer the gift of sight, freedom from machines, or even life itself.

UPMC Transplant Services honors those organ donors who have given the gift of life to allow for life-enhancing and even life-saving transplants. And, our experts have significant experience in offering advanced transplant options, including deceased-donor and living-donor transplants, to patients in need of an organ transplant.

Living Donation

Some candidates for kidney or liver transplantation may have a living relative, spouse, or close friend who is interested in donating a kidney or part of his or her liver. Such a donation is called a living donation.

A potential donor may be considered if he or she is at least 18 years of age and has a blood type (A, B, O, AB) that is compatible with the recipient's blood type. After a compatible blood type is confirmed, other preliminary tests are performed. If these tests indicate that the donor candidate is medically eligible, the transplant coordinator presents the information gained through testing to the Transplant Committee. If test results indicate that a living donation is appropriate for donor and recipient, presurgical testing begins.

Living donation is not for everyone. However, most living donors feel that their donation is one of the most positive events in their lives.

Deceased Donor Donation

If a living donor is not available, or if it is not possible to receive the needed organ from a living donor, the organ will be donated by a deceased person. This is called "cadaveric donation." These donors are adults or children who have become critically ill (often due to an accidental injury) and will not survive. If the donor is an adult, he or she may have agreed to be an organ donor before becoming ill. Parents or spouses can also agree to donate a relative's organs. Most transplanted organs still come from deceased donors.

The United Network for Organ Sharing (UNOS), a service under contract to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, determines the availability of organs from deceased donors.

To lean more about organ donation, please visit the Center for Organ Recovery and Education (CORE).

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