UNOS: Saving Lives One Organ at a Time

It’s so easy to nitpick and find things wrong with organizations. It’s much harder to see what it is they’re doing that’s good.

One particularly fun punching bag is the United Network of Organ Sharing (UNOS). They’re much maligned because of how television medical dramas portray them. However, there are many people who owe their lives to this system.

The number of diseases that can be treated with transplants include leukemia and lymphoma, bone marrow disease, multiple myeloma, sickle cell disease, and atypical hemolytic uremic syndrome (aHUS) to name but a few.

Please don’t misunderstand. There are problems with the UNOS system. However, there are far more good things going on than there are bad. There are somewhere between 100,000 and 120,000 people waiting for donations at any given time. The need for these lifesaving donations far outstrips the supply.

Perhaps that’s why the ever-so-kind people who work at the department of motor vehicles always give me a dirty look when I decline to be an organ donor. Having a rare blood disease prevents me from donating blood or organs, but explaining this to DMV employees seems to be an exercise in futility.

UNOS, however, works diligently to demonstrate all the good they have done and can do with a little help from each of us. People who want to donate to a friend, but who are not a match, can do a paired matching deal. This process allows them to donate to an unknown person who matches their profile, thereby improving the odds of their friend getting an anonymous donation.

The hard work and diligence of the doctors, nurses, and administrative staff who keep UNOS functioning are saving thousands of lives a year.

Click here to read one heart-wrenching tale of an employer donating in the paired matching program to help one of her employees get the kidney she needs.

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