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For Patients and Donors

You may find a list of acronyms and definitions regularly used by SRTR hereThe Alliance also has a more expansive list of terminology and abbreviations used in the transplantation field. Visit their website for more info.

SRTR is a group that is funded through a federal contract to analyze data on US organ transplants. This includes reviewing patient outcomes and the performance of different transplant centers and organ procurement organizations, as well as testing the potential impacts of changes to organ transplant policies.

Both SRTR and OPTN are funded through federal contracts (separate contracts) to help manage the organ transplantation system, but each group has a different role. OPTN works with providers to collect required data on transplant patients and donors. OPTN also determines the policies that decide how donor organs are allocated to candidates who are waiting for transplant. SRTR uses the data collected by OPTN and other federal sources to analyze and report on the transplantation system and to share information to inform decisions by patients and providers.

The SRTR is the organization that performs statistical analysis regarding organ transplantation in the US. The SRTR does not run the waiting list system in the US. SRTR also has no involvement in procuring organs or donors. These issues are managed by an organization called the United Network for Organ Sharing (UNOS). For more information on living donation, visit their website.

An additional helpful resource is www.transplantliving.org. Transplantliving.org also includes information for those interested in donating. 

The SRTR is the organization that performs statistical analysis regarding organ transplantation in the US. The SRTR does not run the waiting list system in the US. The waiting lists are managed by an organization called UNOS. UNOS has a patient services hotline that might have more information on getting on the waiting list: 888-894-6361.

Generally, patients need to first identify centers they may want to get a transplant at first, and then contact those centers directly to get on lists. You may find additional information at www.unos.org.

The SRTR website has some resources available to help you make a decision on which centers might be right for your circumstances. At the top of each page, just to the right of the SRTR logo, there is an option to select which organ you are interested in and then select an area by entering a state or zip-code. If you are interested in any transplant center in the U.S. just leave the "Search by Postal Code or Program Name" box blank, before clicking the "Search" button. Feel free to email us at srtr@srtr.org if you have specific questions about the data presented.

SRTR can provide potential transplant candidates with information that may be helpful in making an informed decision about transplant centers, but SRTR cannot determine what center is best. The best transplant center for each patient depends in many ways on that patient’s situation. Some patients may want to select the transplant center closest to their residence. Others may want to select a center based on its experience with patients with certain conditions, such as diabetes, or certain patient groups, such as pediatrics. Not all transplant centers perform living donor transplants, which may be a requirement for some patients. Some insurance carriers may encourage their patients to seek out specific transplant centers. Individual circumstances dictate the best choice. You can learn more by watching this informational video on How to Compare Transplant Programs.

On a center’s interactive PSR page at the top, we provide the address and phone number of the center, as well as a map of their location. However, since SRTR receives this information via the OPTN data, numbers and locations may be outdated. 

No. You can contact OPTN for information, or an organization like American Transplant Surgeons (AST) might be able to provide that. We do not have surgeon’s information.

The summary page has important information you may want to start with, but you can find a lot of additional information on the PDF version of the report. Look at the tables and figures showing “time to transplant,” “characteristics of recipients,” and “3-year graft and patient survival” to get an idea of how quickly patients undergo transplant at that program, what kinds of patients undergo transplant at that program (to see whether this is a program that is likely to list and perform transplant for a patient like you), and how patients who have undergone transplant are doing after transplant. Watch this video about understanding program-specific reports (PSRs) to learn more.

One bar is the lowest tier, and five bars is the highest tier. The tiers help show how a program is probably doing compared with the national average, based on the information available about that program: one or two bars (or tiers 1 and 2) means that a program is below the national average, three bars (tier 3) means about the same as the national average, and four or five bars (tiers 4 and 5) means above the national average. 

No. That table was created to give people a better idea of what the actual difference is between the tiers. In some cases, the difference between a tier 1 and a tier 5 program is actually not that big, while in other cases there is more of a difference between programs. We included that table to help people see when the difference is bigger or when it is smaller if they are comparing programs.

Technically, it’s not a ranking but a sorted list. Which programs come to the top depends on which columns of information are used for sorting. The default sorting depends on the organ, to show the metrics that are most highly linked to survival first.

The search results page is sorted as follows:

For kidney, heart, and liver:

  1. Getting a Transplant Faster
  2. 1-Year Post-Transplant Survival
  3. Transplants in a Year
  4. Survival on the Waitlist

For lung:

  1. 1-Year Post-Transplant Survival
  2. Getting a Transplant Faster
  3. Survival on the Waitlist
  4. Transplants in a Year

For all other organs:

  1. Transplants in a Year
  2. Getting a Transplant Faster
  3. Survival on the Waitlist

For programs that tie, the order to break the tie is Getting a Transplant Faster1-Year Post-Transplant SurvivalSurvival on the WaitlistDeceased Donor Transplants in a Year, and Living Donor Transplants in a Year.

This is the transplant rate. Basically, it is a metric that tells us how quickly a center is moving patients through their system once listed. If wait-time is a factor, a patient should look at centers with higher transplant rates.

 

This is the transplant rate and this rate is not a percentage, so there can be instances where it is in the thousands. It tells us you can expect if 100 patients waited one year. So, a center that has a rate of 1000, would theoretically have a significantly high number of patients listing and getting their transplants immediately within that observed period.

SRTR gets that rate by dividing the “Actual” number of transplants by the person years. Time on the waitlist for all patients on a waitlist at a center is converted into “person years” to give a cumulative measure because, various patients are on the wait list for various time-frames. It’s a conventional way to tally cumulative time. All centers’ data is tallied the same way, similarly to a percentage, so centers can all be compared along the same lines with the same rates. 

With offer acceptance data, SRTR looks at how willing a program may be to accept deceased donor organs that become available. Not all deceased donor organs are alike, and programs that are willing to accept more deceased donor organs may be getting more transplants done and therefore getting their patients through to transplant faster. It can also indicate if a program takes higher-risk organs and higher-risk patients.

You can always call the program to ask about their listing criteria. Another good place to start is by looking at the types of patients for which this program has recently performed transplants. There is a table in the full PDF version of each program’s report that breaks out characteristics of the recipients. Table C2D in the PDF version of the report will tell you the percentage of patients who might have characteristics similar to yours. You can also find this information in an interactive version of the program-specific report (PSR) report. Links to these reports are found under the program's name on the search results pages. 

At this time, the Organ Procurement and Transplantation Network (OPTN), the body responsible for collecting transplant data, does not collect data on programs’ criteria for choosing which candidates to list. There is currently an effort to define which data could be collected to make this data available to potential candidates.

We have determined that any time range longer than 3 years isn’t painting an accurate picture of what’s happening at that center. Many factors can change at a center, even in 3 years. If you want a longer-term outlook, you can check the Annual Data Report: https://srtr.transplant.hrsa.gov/annual_reports/Default.aspx, which shows what is happening in transplantation in a general sense, nationwide.

SRTR only reports on outcomes for patients that have been placed on a list and/or patients that have received a transplant. We don’t track centers’ prelisting practices. Centers have different criteria for adding patients to lists. The only way for a potential transplant patient to know, is to contact the center directly to find out more.

No. Your priority transfers with you. We use the term “priority” rather than position, because it is important to understand, that even if you are #1 on the list at a center, you may see others offered organs before you. This is due to the allocation policies, which are in place to make sure that not only are organs allocated fairly, but to recipients that are the best match. This is the most effective way to decrease organ discards and decrease graft failure death once the organ is placed. For more information on allocation policies https://optn.transplant.hrsa.gov/media/1200/optn_policies.pdf

Patients can get on the lists of more than one center and “multi-listing” can help your odds of getting transplanted sooner. However, to get multi-listed, you still need to contact each center individually to discuss the options. Centers have different criteria for adding patients to lists and may have different tests needed to determine acceptability of a candidate. So, you may already be a candidate at one center and have gone through multiple tests, but another center may accept the results of those tests, or they may need additional testing. The only way to know for sure is to contact the center directly to find out more.

It has to do with the allocation of available organs. Organ procurement organizations (OPOs) will offer an available organ to centers in their own region or local area. If you were on two lists in the same area and one organ became available, you would be competing with yourself for the offer of that one organ. If you were in two separate regions, or donation service areas, then two separate OPOs may each have an organ available and that’s two potential offers to you. Here’s more information on the organ allocation policy. https://optn.transplant.hrsa.gov/media/1200/optn_policies.pdf

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) requires that all programs report certain statistics to the candidates on its list. If you are already listed at a program, then you may be most concerned about your listing program’s survival outcomes. You can look at the 1-year and 3-year estimated and expected graft and patient survival. If you need assistance understanding what the data are telling you, you can contact SRTR’s help desk. Email us at srtr@srtr.org or call (877) 970-7787.

You absolutely can transfer to another program and/or you can multilist. You can do a quick search and compare programs on the SRTR website. There is an option to Find & Compare Transplant Programs at the top of each page of the SRTR.org website. To understand the data provided in the program’s specific PDF report, watch this brief video.

Due to candidates being removed from the list for several reasons other than transplant, and the candidates spending different amounts of time waiting for a transplant depending on their unique situation, we are unable to present an average. Instead, we use the “transplant rate” as a means to determine how quickly a program is moving patients through to transplant once listed. This measure accounts for the amount of time each candidate spends on the list.

If you’re looking for some data that will show you actual time you might wait, see Tables B8-B9 of the PDF version of the report. These tables show, of those listed at a program, what percentage received their transplants at 30 days, 1 year, 2 years, and 3 years. The tables further break down the information for each patient characteristic. This is intended to give you an idea of about how long someone like you might wait for a transplant at that program. You can also find this information in an interactive version of the program-specific report (PSR). Links to the interactive reports are found under the program's name on the search results pages.

SRTR does not report average life expectancy of recipients for each program separately, yet. You can find national data on issues like this in our annual data report (ADR) or our DATA tool.

SRTR only counts graft failures or deaths. We don’t consider the cause of death. Therefore, we don’t know if it was due to a complication of the graft or if it was an unrelated issue.

At the time a candidate is listed for transplant and while the candidate is waiting, accurate predictions of how long that candidate will continue to wait are difficult to make. Many factors influence waiting time, including the candidate’s blood and tissue types. Information about the experiences of past patients may or may not be helpful because allocation policies and donor availability may have changed. As the waiting lists grow, they look different today from the way they looked just 5 years ago.

Median time to transplant (Table B9 of a PSR) indicates the time at which half of the patients listed within a particular timeframe at a particular center have undergone transplant. For example, if the median waiting time for patients listed during 2019 was 4.5 years, this means that half of the patients listed in 2019 had undergone transplant within 4.5 years of listing. Many factors affect waiting times, including health status (priority level) and blood and tissue types, so knowing the median time to transplant for a center’s entire list may not tell you what waiting times are for people like you. For certain organs, such as kidneys, waiting times are often 5 years or more, and we need to study patients who were listed 4 or 5 years ago to determine how long it took for half of them to undergo transplant. Of course, what happened for patients listed 5 years ago may not accurately reflect what might happen for patients listed today.

In addition, half of the candidates at some programs may not have undergone transplant yet, so the median time to transplant is not yet available. And, for many programs whose waiting lists are relatively small, estimates of the median waiting time may be uncertain, making the measure highly variable from year to year. For these reasons, looking at the percentage of patients similar to you who underwent transplant within certain timeframes, for example 1 year, 2 years, or 3 years, may provide better information. These metrics are available in the program-specific reports. For more information, contact an SRTR representative at srtr@srtr.org.

The median time to transplant (Table B9 of a PSR) estimates presented in the program-specific reports are not adjusted for the mix of patient characteristics at the transplant program, such as severity of illness, geography, donor type or age. These metrics are meant to provide an overall estimate of historical median (average) waiting time. The program-specific reports do contain tables that indicate the percentage of patients that have received a transplant by certain times postlisting broken down by various patient characteristics. These may be more informative than the overall estimate of median waiting time.

Email us at srtr@srtr.org or call (877) 970-7787.