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Actions to strengthen the U.S. organ donation and transplant system

Transportation: Reduce risk of delay, damage or loss in organ transport


Addressing concerns about organ tracking and transportation requires a system‐wide, multi‐pronged approach. UNOS has taken action as a private entity in developing and launching its own organ tracking solution, currently in use by 16 OPOs.1 However, both the federal government and the OPTN must require, develop and enact a solution for national, system‐wide tracking and efficient air transit.

UNOS Action

Due to federal protocol changes following the September 11 attacks, unaccompanied organs were relegated to cargo and are still transported that way today. Cargo procedures are time-insensitive and can cause logistical problems, such as delays, when transporting time-sensitive organs intended for transplant.

UNOS applauds the final FAA reauthorization legislation which includes a provision to improve the safety and efficiency of the transportation of donor organs through the nation’s commercial aviation system.

The Securing Growth and Robust Leadership in American Aviation Act requires the Department of Transportation (DOT), in consultation with the FAA, to convene a working group to develop best practices for transporting organs in the cabin of a commercial aircraft once again.

Since 2022, UNOS has engaged with FAA leadership, the Transportation Security Administration, and the House and Senate to pursue this reform. Actions to move organs back to the airplane cabin and out of cargo are widely endorsed by the donation and transplant community.

Additionally, UNOS is advocating for HRSA to include the following in the next OPTN contract:

  • Mandate physical trackers for unaccompanied deceased donor organs.
  • Develop a centralized organ tracking system.
  • Publicly report on data related to tracking.
  • Review all cases of a lost organ.

The UNOS Action Agenda reflects the needs of the broader donation and transplant community.

“Everyone in the donation and transplant community wants to make sure that every donor organ gets safely to a patient in need. But our community alone can’t solve these transportation challenges.”

Read “When minutes matter: The issues at stake in organ transportation

Matthew Cooper, M.D.

Past president of the OPTN Board of Directors


1“7,000 organs tracked with UNOS organ tracking service.”‐focus/7000‐organs‐tracked‐with‐unos‐organ‐tracking‐service/. 14 Dec. 2022.

All stakeholders, including UNOS, share a common mission:

Get as many transplantable organs as possible to patients who need them, fairly, equitably and efficiently.

All parts of the national system must be held accountable for making sure that this happens. The transplant community and the OPTN must provide the highest level of service to patients and the greatest level of transparency to the public who have charged them with this lifesaving work.

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6. IT improvement

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