The United Network for Organ Sharing (UNOS) is responsible for transplant organ distribution in the United States. UNOS oversees the assignment of all solid organ transplants, including liver, kidney, pancreas, intestine, heart and lung.
UNOS receives information from hospitals and medical centers throughout the country about adults and children who need organ transplants. The liver transplant team at Cincinnati Children's is responsible for sending information to UNOS and updating this information as your child's condition changes.
Standards, or criteria, have been developed by UNOS to ensure the waiting list is fair and accurate. UNOS evaluates factors such as patient size, the severity of the patient’s condition and size and blood-type match of donor livers.
Once UNOS receives the data from hospitals, people waiting for a transplant are placed on a waiting list and given a “status” code. The people in most urgent need of a transplant are placed highest on the list and are given first priority when a donor liver becomes available.
The system used to prioritize patients waiting for liver transplants is based on statistical formulas that are used to predict which patients are most likely to die soon without a liver transplant.
UNOS uses the Model for End-Stage Liver Disease (MELD) score for adolescent and adult patients and the Pediatric End-Stage Liver Disease (PELD) score for children.
A patient's score may go up or down over time depending on the status of his or her liver disease. That is why it is important for all patients to have their MELD or PELD score reassessed on a regular basis while on the waiting list.