An organ transplant is a life-saving procedure to remove diseased or damaged organ and replace it with a healthy donor organ. Certain organs can be transplanted from a living donor, though most come from deceased individuals who, in life, registered as organ donors. Matching an organ to a recipient is a complex and often lengthy process. Post-operative complications of organ transplantation may arise, and lifelong care is necessary to a recipient's survival. A successful transplant, however, can vastly improve the health and life expectancy of a patient.
The first successful kidney transplant took place in 1954 when a man donated one of his organs to his twin. By the late 1960s, surgeons had achieved the first successful heart, liver, and pancreas transplants. Over the next 30 years, organ donation became a common practice, and lawmakers passed significant legislation. As a result, practice and research in organ transplantation progressed, and methods and procedures evolved and improved. In 1977, transplant professionals created the United Network for Organ Sharing (UNOS) in collaboration with the US Health and Human Services department. UNOS facilitates all aspects of organ donation and transplant in the United States, including managing the transplant list and matching donors to recipients.
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