In 1954, the kidney was the first human organ to be transplanted successfully. Liver, heart and pancreas transplants were successfully performed by the late 1960s, while lung and intestinal organ transplant procedures were begun in the 1980s. Until the early 1980s, the potential of organ rejection limited the number of transplants performed. Medical advances in the prevention and treatment of rejection led to more successful transplants and an increase in demand. Learn more about the history of United Network for Organ Sharing.
History of transplantation
On March 21, 1984, United Network for Organ Sharing was incorporated as an independent, non-profit organization, committed to saving lives through uniting and supporting the efforts of donation and transplantation professionals. Learn more about the history of UNOS. Also in 1984, the National Organ Transplant Act (NOTA) called for an Organ Procurement and Transplantation Network (OPTN) to be created and run by a private, non-profit organization under federal contract. The federal Final Rule provides a regulatory framework for the structure and operation of the OPTN. UNOS was first awarded the national OPTN contract in 1986 by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. UNOS continues as the only organization ever to operate the OPTN. As part of the OPTN contract, UNOS has:
- established an organ sharing system that maximizes the efficient use of deceased organs through equitable and timely allocation
- established a system to collect, store, analyze and publish data pertaining to the patient waiting list, organ matching, and transplants
- informed, consulted and guided persons and organizations concerned with human organ transplantation in order to increase the number of organs available for transplantation
Many facets of organ donation and transplantation have changed since UNOS’ founding. Our dedication and mission have not changed. We continually seek to meet the needs of transplant candidates by maintaining a fair and effective national transplant network. Yet ultimately, every transplant is made possible by someone’s decision to help another through organ donation.
The life and legacy of a pioneer in transplant and the founding president of UNOS.
UNOS honors the life and leadership of G. Melville Williams, M.D., a transplant pioneer and a towering force in the development of the transplant system in the United States.