The History of Organ Transplantation in America

The History of Organ Transplantation in America

Organ transplantation is to remove organs from the donor and transplant them into another person who is dying or very ill from organ failure. It could save a dying or very ill person’s life. This article discusses a brief history of organ transplantation in America.

The Breakthrough

In 1954, the first human organ, a kidney was transplanted successfully. By the late 1960s, the liver, heart, and pancreas were also transplanted successfully. In the 1980s. lung, as well as intestinal organ transplants, have begun as well. In 1981, the first heart-lung transplant was performed successfully.

Organ Matching System

In 1977, SEOPF (Southeast Organ Procurement Foundation) implements the first computerized organ matching system, in short, called “UNOS”.


In 1984, NOTA was passed, and it built the blueprint in the private sector for a system of organ recovery & allocation nationwide. Its goal is to help make sure that the organ allocation process will be carried out fairly and efficiently.

In 1984, UNOS was also separated to become a non-profit. Later, in 1986, It received its first federal contract to operate OPTN, short for Organ Procurement & Transplantation Network.

The Breaking Records

  • In 2001, the number of all living organ donors in the United States in the year is 6,528 and it surpasses the number of 6,081 deceased ones.
  • In 2017, the total number of all deceased donors is over 10,000 in America
  • In 2020, the lives saved by deceased organ donors set an all-time high record in the nation.
  • On December 17, 2021, the United States officially surpassed 40,000 organ transplants in one year, and it is the first time in the history of the nation.
  • On September 9, 2022, the United States sets another milestone in the history of 1 million organ transplants nationwide.