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Key Facts

  • In the United States, the most commonly transplanted organs are the kidney, liver, heart, lungs, pancreas and intestines. On any given day there are around 75,000 people on the active waiting list for organs, but only around 8,000 deceased organ donors each year, with each providing on average 3.5 organs. Living donors provide on average only around 6,000 organs per year. 

  • In the U.S, the most commonly transplanted tissues are bones, tendons, ligaments, skin, heart valves, blood vessels and corneas.  Of around 2 million tissue grafts distributed each year, it is thought that only about 1 million grafts are transplanted.

  • While some organ transplantations are life-saving procedures, serious illness, graft loss and death can occur from undetected infections in donor organs and tissues.  Although infrequent, infectious pathogens (i.e., viruses, bacteria, fungi, or protozoa/parasites) have been unknowingly transmitted through transplants (i.e. human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) , hepatitis C , rabies virus , (Mycobacterium tuberculosis (tuberculosis) and (Balamuthia mandrillaris).

  • Laboratory testing for certain infectious pathogens is required in deceased organ and tissue donors and living kidney donors. (i.e.,  human immunodeficiency virus (HIV),  hepatitis B and  hepatitis C  viruses,  syphilis,  CMV, EBV).

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