Watch: CNN’s Chief Medical Correspondent Dr. Sanjay Gupta speaks with our CEO Michael Curtis about the future of organ transplantation.

Transplant shortage crisis

The shortage of transplantable organs and cells for patients with organ failure is a global crisis that continues to worsen.

The supply simply cannot keep pace with the demand. While a remarkable 39,035 transplants were performed in 2020, more than 100,000 people remained on waiting lists as of October 2021.1,2

Organshortage Still
The number of patients with organ failure requiring a transplant has grown faster than the number of transplants available.1,2

That means about 20 people die each day awaiting an organ transplant in the US.1,2 Without new options for patients with organ failure, transplant waiting lists will continue to grow. More patients will die while waiting, and more patients will suffer due to current suboptimal alternatives to transplant.

Several factors contribute to the increasing need for transplantable organs and cells.3,4

EGenesis OrganShortagePage IncreasedEfficacy 20210402

Improvements in transplant outcomes

EGenesis OrganShortagePage IncreasedLongevity 20210402

The increasing longevity of the population

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Rising rates of obesity, which increases the risk of organ failure

2 80 Percent Kidney Desktop
Most patients on the organ transplant waitlist are waiting for a kidney transplant.2

Kidney failure accounts for more than 80 percent of patients on the organ transplant waitlist.2

Kidney Transplantation
Many patients with kidney failure are unable to receive a kidney transplant that would significantly improve their quality of life.1

Kidney Failure

Chronic conditions such as diabetes and hypertension as well as rare genetic conditions lead to kidney disease and kidney failure. In the United States alone, about 37 million adults suffer from chronic kidney disease, and 126,000 patients are newly diagnosed with end-stage renal disease or kidney failure each year. The diagnosis of kidney failure is devastating for patients, their families, and their caregivers.

The most effective treatment for kidney failure is transplantation. Most patients who undergo a kidney transplant can resume normal activities such as work, travel, and time with family and friends. Unfortunately, this option is out of reach for most patients, given the shortage of available organs. Typical wait time for a kidney transplant in the US is three to five years.

Liver Failure

Liver failure can arise as a result of certain autoimmune and metabolic conditions, hepatitis and other viruses, and exposure to toxins and certain drugs. 30,000 people in the United States experience acute-on-chronic liver failure, a worsening of long-lasting liver disease, and 3,000 suffer from acute liver failure, both acute, life-threatening conditions.12

For acute liver failure, often the only effective treatment option is a liver transplant from either a deceased or living donor, with 75% of recipients surviving at least five years beyond the operation.13 Of the 13,000-15,000 individuals on the waitlist for a liver transplant at a given moment, only about 6,000 patients will receive a transplant.14 Wait times to receive a liver from a deceased donor may range from days to up to five years.15

Heart Failure

Heart failure occurs when the heart is no longer able to pump enough blood to fulfill the body’s needs.16 In the United States, more than 6 million people are living with heart failure. Approximately 300,000 of these people suffer from end-stage heart failure, the most severe type of heart failure. At this stage, the condition is so advanced that treatment is less effective and the mortality rate is extremely high.17 There is a particularly pressing need for hearts suitable for transplantation into children and adolescents. In 2021, nearly 13% of heart transplants performed in the United States were in patients 17 years of age or younger.18,19

The most effective treatment for end-stage heart failure is a heart transplant.20 While heart transplants can extend life expectancy by years or even decades, many patients who would benefit from the procedure have extremely limited access to a transplant given the organ shortage. At least 3,000 adults and 400 children are currently on the waiting list for a heart transplant, and they can expect to wait six months or longer.21

4 Dialysis@2x
For patients with Type 1 Diabetes that experience severe complications, islet cell transplantation may provide a less invasive and potentially safer treatment option than a whole-organ transplant.10,11

Type 1 Diabetes

Type 1 diabetes is an autoimmune disease in which the immune system attacks islet cells that produce insulin in the pancreas. In the United States, about 1.6 million people have type 1 diabetes.22,23

While type 1 diabetes is usually managed with insulin therapy, about 25,000 patients experience complications per year, such as frequent and severe episodes of low blood sugar, or hypoglycemia.16,17 These complications can result in hospitalization, damage to other organs, or death. For those suffering such complications, islet cell transplantation can potentially restore the body’s production of insulin.24,25,26 Type 1 diabetes requires careful monitoring of blood sugar levels and insulin therapy, which can require multiple daily injections.

Transplant stories

Get to know patients, their families, and their friends. Learn how their lives have been shaped by transplantation — either as donors or recipients. Faced with incredible challenges, these courageous individuals are our inspiration. It is in their honor that we work toward meeting the urgent need for more transplantable organs and cells.

Edward Drake II

Shameka

References

  1. Health Resources and Services Administration, U.S. Department of Health & Human Services. Organ Procurement and Transplantation Network national data. OPTN website. https://optn.transplant.hrsa.gov/data/view-data-reports/national-data/. Accessed November 21, 2022.
  2. Health Resources and Services Administration. Organ donation statistics. Organdonor.gov website. https://www.organdonor.gov/statistics-stories/statistics.html. Accessed November 21, 2022.
  3. Abouna GM. Organ shortage crisis: problems and possible solutions. Transplant Proc. 2008;40(1):34-38. doi:10.1016/j.transproceed.2007.11.067.
  4. Caplan AL. Finding a solution to the organ shortage. Can Med Assoc J. 2016;188(16):1182-1183. doi:10.1503/cmaj.151260.
  5. Thomas R, Kanso A, Sedor JR. Chronic kidney disease and its complications. Prim Care. 2008;35 (2):329-vii. doi:10.1016/j.pop.2008.01.008.
  6. Chronic kidney disease in the United States, 2021. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website. https://www.cdc.gov/kidneydisease/publications-resources/ckd-national-facts.html. Published March 04, 2021. Accessed November 21, 2022.
  7. Kidney disease statistics for the United States. National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases website. https://www.niddk.nih.gov/health-information/health-statistics/kidney-disease. Accessed November 21, 2022.
  8. Heart failure: symptoms and causes. Mayo Clinic website. https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/heart-failure/symptoms-causes/syc-20373142. Updated December 10, 2021. Accessed September 28, 2022.
  9. Friedrich EB, Böhm M. Management of end stage heart failure. Heart. 2007;93(5):626-631. doi:10.1136/hrt.2006.098814.
  10. Heart failure: diagnosis and treatment. Mayo Clinic website. https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/heart-failure/diagnosis-treatment/drc-20373148. Updated December 10, 2021. Accessed September 28, 2022.
  11. Katella K. 8 things to know about heart transplants. Yale Medicine website. https://www.yalemedicine.org/news/8-things-to-know-about-heart-transplants. Published October 6, 2020. Accessed September 28, 2022.
  12. Acute liver failure: symptoms and causes. Mayo Clinic website. https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/acute-liver failure/symptoms-causes/syc-20352863. Updated September 10, 2022. Accessed September 28, 2022.
  13. Liver transplant. Mayo Clinic website. https://www.mayoclinic.org/tests-procedures/liver-transplant/about/pac-20384842. Updated October 20, 2022. Accessed November 21, 2022.
  14. Mathur AK, Ashby VB, Fuller DS, et al. Variation in access to the liver transplant waiting list in the United States. Transplantation. 2014;98(1):94-99. doi:10.1097/01.tp.0000443223.89831.85.
  15. The liver transplant process. National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases website. https://www.niddk.nih.gov/health-information/liver-disease/liver-transplant/preparing-transplant#waitingList. Accessed September 28, 2022.
  16. National diabetes statistics report. Estimates of diabetes and its burden in the United States. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website. https://www.cdc.gov/diabetes/data/statistics-report/index.html. Updated June 29, 2022. Accessed November 21, 2022.
  17. Statistics about diabetes. American Diabetes Association website. https://www.diabetes.org/resources/statistics/statistics-about-diabetes. Updated July 28, 2022. Accessed November 21, 2022.
  18. Gamble A, Pepper AR, Bruni A, Shapiro AMJ. The journey of islet cell transplantation and future development. Islets. 2018;10(2):80-94. doi:10.1080/19382014.2018.1428511.
  19. Bruni A, Gala-Lopez B, Pepper AR, Abualhassan NS, Shapiro AJ. Islet cell transplantation for the treatment of type 1 diabetes: recent advances and future challenges. Diabetes Metab Syndr Obes Targets Ther. 2014;7:211-223. doi:10.2147/DMSO.S50789.
  20. Srinivasan P, Huang GC, Amiel SA, Heaton ND. Islet cell transplantation. Postgrad Med J. 2007;83(978):224-229. doi:10.1136/pgmj.2006.053447.
  21. Katella K. 8 things to know about heart transplants. Yale Medicine. https://www.yalemedicine.org/news/8-things-to-know-about-heart-transplants. Published October 6, 2020. Accessed September 28, 2022.
  22. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. National Diabetes Statistics Report, 2020. Estimates of diabetes and its burden in the United States. Updated August 2020. Accessed October 6, 2021. https://www.cdc.gov/diabetes/data/statistics-report/index.html
  23. American Diabetes Association. Statistics About Diabetes. Accessed October 6, 2021. https://www.diabetes.org/resources/statistics/statistics-about-diabetes
  24. Gamble A, Pepper AR, Bruni A, Shapiro AMJ. The journey of islet cell transplantation and future development. Islets. 2018;10(2):80-94. doi:10.1080/19382014.2018.1428511
  25. Bruni A, Gala-Lopez B, Pepper AR, Abualhassan NS, Shapiro AJ. Islet cell transplantation for the treatment of type 1 diabetes: recent advances and future challenges. Diabetes Metab Syndr Obes Targets Ther. 2014;7:211-223. doi:10.2147/DMSO.S50789
  26. Srinivasan P, Huang GC, Amiel SA, Heaton ND. Islet cell transplantation. Postgrad Med J. 2007;83(978):224-229. doi:10.1136/pgmj.2006.053447