Over 97,000 Americans Are Waiting For Kidney Transplants

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by Tyler Durden
Saturday, Jan 22, 2022 - 02:55 PM

A genetically modified pig's heart has been successfully transplanted into a human for the first time.

The operation, performed in Baltimore in the United States on Friday, offers a potential future solution to long transplant waiting lists. Dr. Bartley Griffith, who performed the operation, described the situation on Monday:

“It creates the pulse, it creates the pressure, it is his heart,” adding: “It’s working and it looks normal. We are thrilled, but we don’t know what tomorrow will bring us. This has never been done before.”

In the infographic below, Statista's Katharina Buchholz takes a look at the size of the transplant waiting list problem in the U.S. According to the Health Resources & Services Administration, almost 120 thousand people were waiting for an organ in September 2021, with a kidney being the most needed (over 97 thousand) by far. A heart transplant was needed by around 3,500 people.

Infographic: Organ Transplant Waiting Lists in the U.S. | Statista

You will find more infographics at Statista

While the operation is being described as a watershed moment, Dr. David Klassen, the chief medical officer of the United Network for Organ Sharing, warns that there is still a long way to go before this is a valid option for a large number of patients:

“Doors are starting to open that will lead, I believe, to major changes in how we treat organ failure" but “Events like these can be dramatized in the press, and it’s important to maintain perspective. It takes a long time to mature a therapy like this.”

For now, the kidney is the organ most often transplanted in the U.S., and the number of transplants has more than doubled since the late 1980s. Kidneys, as well as livers, are donated by both deceased and living patients, which is why transplant numbers for these organs are higher than those for hearts and lungs.

Infographic: Kidney Transplants on the Rise | Statista

You will find more infographics at Statista

In the case of kidneys, transplant numbers started rising more quickly in 2010 – a clear connection to the ongoing opioid crisis in the U.S. In a bittersweet twist of events, younger and healthier organ donors dying from overdoses increased the size of the donor pool significantly, since deceased donors can donate both, not just one, of their kidneys.

Similarly, one in six donor hearts in the U.S. is now coming from a person who died from an overdose.