The United Network for Organ Sharing (UNOS)


The United Network for Organ Sharing (UNOS) is the private, non-profit organization that manages the U.S.’s organ-transplant system under contract with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. 

UNOS maintains a centralized computer network that links all organ-procurement organizations and transplant centers. It’s accessible 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Organ-placement specialists are always available to answer questions.

What to Expect

If your doctor refers you to a transplant center, the center will evaluate your mental and physical health and your social support system. If you are a transplant candidate, you will be added to the national patient waiting list for organ transplant. You will not be placed on a ranked list, but added to the pool of patients waiting.

Whenever a deceased organ donor is identified, a transplant coordinator from an organ procurement organization accesses the UNOS computer. The computer matches patients in the pool with characteristics of the donor and generates a ranked list of patients for each organ based on organ-allocation policies.

What factors affect ranking? 

  • Tissue match
  • Blood type
  • Length of time on the waiting list
  • Immune status
  • Distance between you and the donor

For heart, liver and intestines, the potential recipient’s degree of medical urgency is also a factor. 

The organ is offered to the transplant team of the first person on the list. If your name is selected, you must be available, healthy enough to undergo major surgery and willing to be transplanted immediately. Once a patient has been selected, contacted and tested, surgery is scheduled and the transplant takes place.

Living donor transplant

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