What causes an organ to stop working?
Organ transplantation is a more common medical procedure today than in the
past. People are living longer, which means that disease has a longer time to
damage organs. Many diseases can lead to organ failure, including
coronary artery disease,
chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), cystic fibrosis, and Crohn's disease.
If you have been living
with a serious chronic disease that has caused a major organ (such as your
heart, kidneys, liver, pancreas, lungs, or intestine) to fail, you may want to ask your
doctor whether an organ transplant is an option for you. Decisions about
whether you will need a transplant are usually made in consultation with a
How do I get on the waiting list?
After it is
determined that you need an organ transplant, the next step is getting on the
organ transplant waiting list:
- Obtain a referral from your
- Call the transplant center where you choose to have your
transplant. To locate a transplant center near you, ask your doctor or contact the United Network for Organ Sharing by going online at
www.unos.org or calling 1-888-894-6361.
- Schedule an appointment for
an evaluation at the transplant center to find out if you are a good candidate
for transplant. Your transplant center can perform all of the required tests,
or your doctor can order the tests and send the results to the center.
During your evaluation, it is important to learn as much
as you can about the transplant center. You may want to find out whether the
center will accept your insurance, what your options are if you
don't have insurance, and whether support groups are available. Be ready to ask
a lot of questions to make sure the transplant center is a good fit for
The transplant center will notify you within 2 weeks of your
evaluation to let you know whether you have been placed on the waiting list. If
you have questions about your list status, contact the transplant center where
you were evaluated.
It may be days, months, or even years before
you receive a new organ. Waiting may be the hardest part of your transplant.
Your transplant team will consider whether the donor is a good match for you,
the status of your current health, and how long you've been on the waiting list. Your team will also consider the location of the donated organ, because it must be transplanted quickly
to remain in working order.
What if I am not a good candidate for organ transplant?
If you are told that you are not a good candidate for organ transplant,
find out if there are other treatments for your condition. Many people can live
for years with serious health conditions. If transplantation is not an option,
the goal of your care may shift to maintaining your comfort. Talk to your loved
ones about the type of care you would like to receive. Discuss their
expectations as well as your wishes, care needs, finances, and the needs of
your family. Your choices may change as your illness changes.
What do I need to know before having an organ transplant?