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Organ Procurement and Transplantation: Assessing Current Policies and the Potential Impact of the DHHS Final Rule
organ transplantation, the donor and recipient were often in the same building. Gradually, a system of independent organizations, Organ Procurement Organizations (OPOs), developed to optimize matching of patients with donated organs. OPOs identified donors, retrieved organs, and found recipients within a reasonable time frame.
The designated geographic areas served by the various OPOs range in size from a few counties, to entire states, to multi-state areas covering parts or all of several states (see Figure 1-1).* The populations of these areas range from approximately 700,000 to 11,000,000 (DHHS, 1999b). In each area, only one OPO coordinates activities relating to organ procurement and allocation, and that OPO is required to have a working arrangement with all hospitals in its designated area. OPOs evaluate potential donors, discuss donation with family members, and arrange for the surgical removal of donated organs. OPOs also are responsible for preserving organs and arranging for their distribution according to nationally, regionally, or locally agreed upon organ-sharing policies.
TABLE 1-2 UNOS National Patient Waiting List for Organ Transplants