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Imagine Waiting for a Second Chance at Life

There are more than 10,000 people in Donor Network West’s donation service area of northern California and northern Nevada waiting for a life-saving organ transplant. Organ failure and other serious illnesses can affect anybody of any age, race, or socioeconomic status, it could even affect a family member or a friend in your life. Those on the waiting list must overcome daily obstacles such as being on dialysis, connected to oxygen, living in the ICU and taking medication while waiting and hoping for a life-saving organ transplant. For some people, approximately 20 people every day, an organ donation never becomes available and they unfortunately pass away waiting.

How the Waiting List Works

When a patient is a confirmed transplant candidate by a medical professional at a transplant hospital, the patient is added to the national waiting list maintained by The United Network for Organ Sharing (UNOS). This list ranks transplant candidates to ensure fair allocation of organs nationwide. Donor Network West works with UNOS to coordinate organ donations throughout northern California and northern Nevada.

When an organ donor becomes available, patients on the national waiting list are compared to the donor in the following areas to find the best possible match:

  1. Medical urgency
  2. Blood/tissue type 
  3. Size match with the donor
  4. Genetic makeup
  5. Time on the waiting list
  6. Proximity between the donor and the recipient
Smiling man and woman looking at each other

Allocating Organs Fairly

No one can game the system, jump ahead or influence their time on the waiting list. Factors such as income, status, race or religion are not considerations in determining the allocation of organs. You can help curb the spread of misinformation with accurate responses to topics like this and other questions about organ donation.

Average Wait Times Vary

While more people are receiving organ transplants than ever before, the need  still outpaces the available organs. The hard truth is, approximately 22 people will die today waiting for an organ that doesn’t come in time to save their lives. This is why Donor Network West is committed to increasing the number of registered donors; to give people on the waiting list hope for tomorrow.

The national average wait time for an organ transplant is:

  • Icon of Kidneys


    5 Years

  • Icon of a Liver


    11 Months

  • Icon of a Heart


    4 Months

  • Icon of Lungs


    4 Months

  • Icon of a Pancreas


    5 Years

  • Organ Donation Facts and Statistics

    Read More
Two young men smiling with one's elbow on the others shoulder

Living Donors Ease Wait Times

When a living person volunteers one of their organs to someone in need (most often, a kidney) this is called a living donation. Living donors increase the organ supply and enable more patients to receive life-saving organ transplants. This not only frees up space on the waiting list, but it also increases the chance of transplant success for patients.