beth israel deaconess medical center a harvard medical school teaching hospital

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Where Does the Deceased Donor Organ Come From

If our Transplant Institute staff determines that you are a transplant candidate, we will add your medical profile to the national patient list for organ transplant that is maintained by the United Network for Organ Sharing (UNOS) in Richmond, Virginia. You will join a list of people waiting for a liver donation from a deceased donor.

Our Transplant Institute tracks wait times each year by blood type. For these and other statistics, visit the Transplant Institute outcome and volume data section on our Web site. We measure transplant volume by organ type, waiting time for a transplant, one-year survival rate by organ type, and quality of life before and after the transplant.

The Scientific Registry of Transplant Recipients (SRTR) also publishes center-specific reports with a wide range of useful information about transplant programs operating in the United States. The information includes many features of the BIDMC transplant program, such as the number of transplants performed in recent years, waiting time and waitlist outcomes, and the post-transplant experience of our patients. The statistics allow comparisons to national averages, as well as to the experience for similar patients at other centers in the country. The waitlist report is based on BIDMC data for patients transplanted within the last five years.

The majority of deceased donor organs for BIDMC transplant patients come from donors in New England. The transplant is coordinated by the New England Organ Bank (NEOB), which operates according to policies set by UNOS, as supervised by the federal government. When a donor is identified, the NEOB sends UNOS information about the donor, including blood type, vital statistics such as blood pressure and weight, donor age and cause of death, information about blood tests, blood test results and social history.

Whole, Split and Reduced-Size Liver

A liver from a deceased donor can be used in two ways: The whole liver is used in one person (almost always the case), or the liver is split between two recipients (done very uncommonly). The liver's unique ability to grow back to its normal size makes split-liver donation possible. The right lobe, which is larger, goes to an adult. The left lobe, which is smaller, goes to a child or a small adult.

In liver transplantation, matching organ size from donor to recipient is very important. Today, thanks to new harvesting and preservation techniques, surgeons can take a deceased donor liver and reduce its size for a closer recipient match. These protocols make it possible for the donor to weigh much more than the recipient.

Split and reduced-size liver transplants have extended the availability of deceased donor liver organs. Still, because there is a shortage of organ donors, there is no guarantee when a deceased donor liver will become available.

Contact Information

Transplant Institute
Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center
Lowry Medical Office Building, 7th Floor
110 Francis Street
Boston, MA 02215