Most Lives Saved by Organ Transplant in a Single Year | News Direct

Most Lives Saved by Organ Transplant in a Single Year The nation’s transplant system set all-time records in 2021

News release by United Network for Organ Sharing

facebook icon linkedin icon twitter icon pinterest icon email icon Richmond, Va. | January 11, 2022 11:20 AM Eastern Standard Time

In 2021, a historic 41,354 organ transplants were performed in the U.S., an increase of 5.9 percent over 2020 and the first time the annual total exceeded 40,000, according to preliminary data from United Network for Organ Sharing (UNOS), the engine that powers the nation’s organ donation and transplantation system.

The three organs most commonly transplanted also set annual records. There were 24,669 kidney transplants, 9,236 liver transplants and 3,817 heart transplants in 2021. Liver transplant totals have set annual records for the past nine years, and heart transplants have set a new record every year for the past decade.

“We are gratified that transplantation continues to increase substantially and meet the needs of many more people with organ failure, despite ongoing challenges to healthcare relating to the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Matthew Cooper, M.D., FACS, president of the UNOS Board of Directors. “This speaks to the dedication and collaboration of donor hospitals, organ procurement organizations and transplant hospitals striving to ensure every opportunity to give the gift of life is pursued and celebrated."

Thanks to the generosity of selfless donors and their courageous families, deceased organ donations continued its 11-year record trend. Increases in donation occurred in many areas throughout the nation. Of 57 organ procurement organizations (OPOs), 49 experienced an increase in donation over their 2020 total. Forty-five OPOs set all-time records for donors recovered in a single year.

“As always, we are indebted to the many thousands of people who make these transplants possible through the selfless gift of organ donation,” Cooper said. “And we are reminded daily of our need to help the tens of thousands of men, women and children continuing to await a lifesaving transplant.”

Learn more about organ donation and transplantation and how to register to be a donor at

Dr. Cooper is a transplant surgeon and the director of kidney and pancreas transplantation at MedStar Georgetown Transplant Institute at MedStar Georgetown University Hospital.


About UNOS


 United Network for Organ Sharing (UNOS) is a non-profit, charitable organization that serves as the Organ Procurement and Transplantation Network (OPTN) under contract with the federal government. The OPTN helps create and define organ allocation and distribution policies that make the best use of donated organs. This process involves continuously evaluating new advances and discoveries so policies can be adapted to best serve patients waiting for transplants. All transplant programs and organ procurement organizations throughout the country are OPTN members and are obligated to follow the policies the OPTN creates for allocating organs.


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United Network for Organ Sharing


Anne Paschke


+1 804-782-4730


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