Organ transplants are a life-saving medical procedure that has improved the longevity and quality of life for countless people worldwide. Due to the shortage of available organs, though, it can be difficult to find a suitable donor. As a result, those in need of a transplant may need to consider traveling to countries other than their own in order to have a chance at finding a matching organ.
Organ transplantation laws and access to queueing systems vary from country to country, so those interested in traveling for a transplant should consider researching the laws and process in depth. Countries such as the United States, Canada, and the United Kingdom generally only allow queueing when the patient is in home jurisdiction. Alternatively, organ transplantation queues are available in countries such as Cyprus, India, Mexico, Iran, and the Ukraine, offering an accessible option for those in need of an organ transplant.
The United States has an extensive organ transplantation system managed by the United Network for Organ Sharing (UNOS), with 39 Organ Procurement Organizations (OPOs) operating in the United States and Puerto Rico. In the US, patients will first be placed on the waitlist with the OPO closest to their home. Once listed, they can request to cross-list to any other OPO, seeking a better match for the type and quality of their needed organ.
Canada has two national programs, one in Ontario and another in British Columbia, both of which have transplant waitlists available. Patients can be listed either within their home province or with an out-of-province waitlist, though the availability of organs is typically lowest in the out-of-province option.
In the United Kingdom, the NHS Blood and Transplant service manages the waiting list and organ allocation process. There is no queueing process and instead, patients are required to contact the relevant Transplant Unit once they have decided to take the next step.
Outside of these jurisdictions, some countries operate U.S. or Canadian compatible organ donation systems, such as Cyprus and India. Mexico, Iran, and the Ukraine also offer transplant waiting lists, though the standards of care and regulations for organ donation and transplantation vary from country to country.
In summary, organ transplants are life-saving medical procedures that can increase the longevity and quality of life for countless individuals. Those in need of an organ transplant may need to consider travelling to a different country in order to take advantage of alternate queueing systems. Each country has its own laws and regulations regarding organ donation and transplantation, and research should be conducted in detail before committing to a queueing system in a different country.