Throughout history, society has been intrigued by the prospect of extracting an organ, whether it be from a person or from an animal, and successfully transferring it to another. This has been documented in Greek, Roman, and Chinese cultures. Such an example is found in Homer’s The Odyssey, where a creature was created through the weaving together of body parts of a goat, lion, and dragon (http://www.organtransplants.org/understanding/history/). However, it wasn’t until the mid-20th century that this transplant process began to advance.
Until that point, organ transplants were advanced to the degree that the procedures would come up just short of success, with many failures due to organ rejection. Examples range from an Italian surgeon in the 16th Century, Gasparo Tagliacozzi, who reconstructed noses and ears using skin from patients’ arms, to the transplant of the first human kidney using an organ from a deceased donor, performed by Ukrainian doctor Yu Yu Voronoy in 1936 (http://www.history.com/news/organ-transplants-a-brief-history). The development of immunosuppressive drugs in the 1960s, together with tissue typing, became early tools to begin the advance of organ transplantation to where it is today.
As the medical technology and techniques improved, organ transplants become more successful and were being performed more frequently. Due to the greater acceptance and usage of this practice, in the 1980s organizations were established to support the growth and coordination of transplantation. United Network for Organ Sharing (UNOS) was incorporated to support the efforts of donation and transplantation professionals in 1984 (https://unos.org/transplantation/history/). Soon thereafter in 1986, UNOS was awarded a national Organ Procurement and Transplantation Network (OPTN) contract by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. As part of UNOS’ mission, under that contract, UNOS has, and continues to:
- Establish an organ sharing system that maximizes the efficient use of deceased organs through equitable and timely allocation
- Establish a system to collect, store, analyze and publish data pertaining to the patient waiting list, organ matching, and transplants
- Inform, consult and guide persons and organizations concerned with human organ transplantation to increase the number of organs available for transplantation.
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Topic for Saturday, January 13th posting – The Background of UNOS (United Network for Organ Sharing)
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