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Putting a Number on Organ Transplant Success

Putting a Number on Organ Transplant Success

In the United States, dozens of people receive organ transplants each day, saving them from succumbing to various illnesses and medical conditions. While organ transplantation is nothing new, the sheer amount of years added to the lives of organ recipients is still quite impressive.

Crunching Data

In recent history, transplanted organs can be credited with adding nearly 2.3 million years of life to the American public. This was the finding of a study in the March 2015 issue of the journal JAMA Surgery. The report examined the medical histories of more than than 533,000 organ recipients, who were given new organs between September 1st, 1987 and December 31st, 2012.

The authors documented the impact of transplanted kidneys, livers, lungs, and hearts. Their research also included people who underwent intestinal transplants, as well as subjects who received donated pancreases. Shown below are the additional years added to to the organ recipients, separated based on the type of transplant operation.

Organ Total Years of Life Saved Average Extra Years Lived
Kidney 1,372,969 4.4
Liver 465,296 4.3
Heart 269,715 4.9
Pancreas and Kidney 79,198 4.6
Lung 64,575 N/a
Pancreas 14,903 2.6
Intestines 4,402 2.8


Room For Improvement

Not all of the data unearthed by the researchers was positive. The study examined a total of over 1.1 million individuals on transplant waiting lists; out of this figure, less than half (roughly 48 percent) actually received a crucially needed transplant. The data used by the research team was originally gathered by the United Network for Organ Sharing (UNOS). This nonprofit organization has documented all transplants in the United States since September 1987.

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