Tuesday, July 21, 2009


We took a bus trip to UNOS (United Network of Organ Sharing) on Friday which is where it all happens. By that I mean, this is where "the list" is that people talk about. This is the place where all the recipient's information is stored (blood type, age, location, genetic properties, etc) until a suitable donor is found. This is the place where the donor information is sent to. This is the place where the matching happens and the donors and recipients lives cross paths. Looks like just an ordinary building, but what a powerful, life-changing building it is.

We were given tours of the building and walked through how the process takes place. Below is the Call Center that operates 24/7. They are the ones taking the information from doctors for both those being placed on the transplant list and deceased donors. They are the ones going through the database and making matches. They are the ones contacting the hospitals to let them know of a potential donor for their patient. They are the ones arranging flights for the organs to travel to where they are needed.

The country is divided into regions and this helps determine where some organs are able to go since some have to be transplanted more quickly.

A couple other things I learned on the trip ~

Organs don't travel in a Playmate cooler like is shown on tv. Here is how they travel.

They are first placed in a tupperware container in a sterile solution. That container is placed inside 3 sterile bags which is then placed in a styrofoam cooler of ice. All this is placed into the waxed cardboard box. The box is the last thing placed on a plane and the first thing off. Flights carrying organs are given importance over others, being the first to takeoff and the first to land.

I also want to show you how far technology has come. This big barrel is the first kidney dialysis machine and the little white cylinder is what is currently used.

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