In my post yesterday, I began to discuss the complicated matter of organ donation.  After doing some more research and meeting with a staff person at the Indiana Organ Procurement Organization (IOPO), things have become a little more clear.  Below, I’ve shared some snapshots of the various institutions and their relationships:

The Organ Procurement and Transplantation Network (OPTN) exists because of Section 274 of the National Organ Transplantation Act of 1984.  The actual work of OPTN is carried out by the United Network for Organ Sharing (UNOS).  This relationship has existed for 20 years – due to successive renewed contracts.  Both are nonprofit entities.

UNOS serves as the “czar” for organ donation.  If you are not a member of UNOS, you do not have anything to do with organ donations in the United States.  Types of members include:  organ procurement organizations, transplant centers, laboratories, professional organizations, voluntary organizations, and the general public.  While most of these entities are nonprofits, some are for-profits.

So, the organ procurement organizations are also established by the National Organ Transplantation Act of 1984.  Check out Section 273.  These nonprofits must operate in accordance to the law and UNOS policies.  They serve specific geographic regions; for example, a majority of the state of Indiana is served by the IOPO.  All organ procurement organizations must maintain nonprofit status.

Many of the organ procurement organizations, by choice, are institutional members of the Association of Organ Procurement Organization (AOPO).  AOPO provides the national perspective on organ transplantation directly to the movers-and-shakers in D.C.  Again, a nonprofit entity.

Stay tuned for more posts about why there are so many nonprofit organizations involved in organ donation!  If you have a specific question that I have not yet covered, please leave a comment.

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