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U.S. Government Information on Organ and Tissue Donation and Transplantation
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Timeline of Historical Events Significant Milestones in Organ Donation and Transplantation

2009—END THE WAIT! Campaign launched by the National Kidney Foundation to increase organ donation and eliminate the kidney waiting list.

2008—Stephanie Tubbs Jones Gift of Life Medal Act (PL 110-113): establishes authority for the Department of Health and Human Services to issue a National Medal honoring organ donors.

2007—Charlie W. Norwood Living Organ Donation Act (PL 110-144): established that paired donation is not considered valuable consideration for purposes of Section 301 of the National Organ Transplant Act.

2006—Donate Life America launched its Donor Designation Collaborative to increase the total number of registered donors in the U.S. to 100 million.

2006—Institute of Medicine (IOM) released a new report, Organ Donation: Opportunities for Action. The IOM examined the ethical and societal implications of numerous strategies to increase deceased donation and considered several ethical issues regarding living donation, resulting in the presentation of seventeen recommendations for action.

2005—First successful partial face transplant performed in France.

2004—Organ Donation and Recovery Improvement Act (PL 108-216): expanded authorities of the National Organ Transplant Act to, among other things, provide reimbursement of travel and subsistence expenses for living organ donors, and grants to states and public entities.

2003—No Greater Love won a national EMMY™ award for community service documentaries (See 2002).

2003—The Organ Donation Breakthrough Collaborative, was launched by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services to increase donation in the nation's largest hospitals by implementing an intensive and highly focused program to promote widespread use of best practices. In 2005, transplant centers joined the initiative with the goal of increasing the number of organs per donor. A revised version of the program continues today as the Donation and Transplantation Community of Practice

2003—HHS Secretary Tommy G. Thompson, designates April as National Donate Life Month.

2002—Department of Health and Human Services premieres its new documentary, No Greater Love at the Ronald Reagan Building, Washington, DC. This hour long film, narrated by Angela Lansbury and produced by Banyan Communications, depicts the power of transplantation and the critical need for more donors.

2002—Up-to-the-minute data on the number of people waiting for organ transplants in the United States are now available online through the OPTN.

2001—HHS Secretary Tommy G. Thompson launched his national Gift of Life Donation Initiative to increase organ, tissue, marrow, and blood donation.

2001—Number of living donors exceeds number of deceased donors for the first time in the U.S.

2000—Children’s Health Act (PL 106-310): Amended the National Organ Transplant Act to require the OPTN to consider special issues concerning pediatric patients that should be considered in organ allocation.

1999—Institute of Medicine Report released its report Organ Procurement and Transplantation, with five recommendations. Among these were recommendations to: discontinue the use of waiting time in allocation of less severely ill liver patients; reaffirm the federal government's OPTN oversight role; establish independent review of the OPTN; and improve OPTN collection and availability to independent investigators for research or analysis.

1999—Organ Donor Leave Act was passed by Congress to allow federal employees to receive paid leave and serve as living organ or marrow donors.

1999—First hand transplant performed in the U.S.

1998—Plasmapheresis was introduced to enable kidney transplant in patients whose ABO blood group or antibodies are incompatible with the donor.

1998—First successful hand transplant performed in France.

1998—The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services issued its Hospital Conditions of Participation in Medicare and Medicaid programs requiring participating hospitals to refer all deaths and imminent deaths to the local organ procurement organization.

1996—Congress authorizes mailing organ and tissue donation information with income tax refunds (sent to approximately 70 million households).

1995—First living donor kidney was removed through laparoscopic surgical methods that result in a small incision and easier recovery for the donor.

1991—Surgeon General Antonia Novella convenes a national workshop on increasing organ donation.

1990—First successful living donor lung transplant was performed.

1990—Nobel Prize awarded to Dr. Joseph E. Murray and Dr. E. Donnall Thomas, pioneers in kidney and bone marrow transplants respectively. Dr. Murray performed the first successful kidney transplant (1954) and Dr. Thomas performed the first bone marrow transplant (1968).

1990—Medicare pays for liver transplants (that meet specific medical criteria) performed at approved hospitals.

1989—First successful small intestine transplant performed.

1988—First split-liver transplant surgery performed. This procedure enables two recipients to each receive a portion of one donated liver.

1987—First successful intestine transplant performed.

1987—Medicare pays for heart transplants performed at hospitals that meet criteria set by the Health Care Financing Administration (now Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services).

1986—Required Request legislation. The Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act of 1986 required hospitals to have in place policies for offering all families of deceased patients the opportunity to donate their loved one’s organs.

1986—The first contract for establishment and operation of the OPTN is awarded by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to the United Network for Organ Sharing (UNOS). The OPTN provides services for equitable access and allocation of organs and sets the membership criteria and standards for transplant centers in the U.S.

1985Public Law 99-272, The Omnibus Reconciliation Act of 1985, April 8, 1986, required that States have written standards with regard to coverage of organ transplants in order to qualify for federal payments under Title XIX of the Social Security Act.

1984—The National Organ Transplant Act passed by Congress prohibits the selling of human organs, establishes the Organ Procurement and Transplantation Network to ensure fair and equitable allocation of donated organs, and the Scientific Registry of Transplant Recipients to conduct an ongoing evaluation of the scientific and clinical status of organ transplantation. It also provided for grants for the establishment, initial operation, and expansion of organ procurement organizations.

1983/1984—First successful lung and heart/liver combined transplant performed.

1983—First successful single lung transplant with significant recipient survival (more than 6 years).

1983—Surgeon General C. Everett Koop convenes the first workshop on solid organ procurement for transplant.

1983—The Food and Drug Administration approves cyclosporine which can improve transplant outcomes as its immunosuppressive qualities lessens the potential for organ rejection.

1983—National Organ and Tissue Donor Awareness Week first declared by Congress, Senate Joint Resolution 78.

1981—Uniform Determination of Death Act (UDDA), a draft state law developed by the National Conference on Uniform State Laws, in cooperation with the American Medical Association (AMA), the American Bar Association (ABA), and the President's Commission on Medical Ethics

1981—First combined heart/lung transplant performed.

1980Uniform Determination of Death Act (UDDA) defines death as either irreversible cessation of circulatory and respiratory functions or irreversible cessation of all functions of the brain, including the brain stem.

1976—Discovery cyclosporine’s ability to suppress the immune system, helping to prevent the rejection of transplanted organs.

1968—Uniform Anatomical Gift Act drafted by the National Conference of Commissioners on Uniform State Laws; established the Uniform Donor Card as a legal document of gift in all 50 states, identified the types and priority of individuals who could donate a deceased person's organs, and enabled anyone over 18 to legally donate his or her organs upon death.

1968—The first organ procurement organization (OPO) was established, New England Organ Bank based in Boston.

1968—First definition of brain death based on neurological criteria developed by a Harvard Ad Hoc Committee.

1968—First successful bone marrow transplant performed.

1967—First successful heart transplant performed in South Africa.

1967—First U.S. heart transplant performed.

1967—First simultaneous kidney/pancreas transplant performed.

1967—First successful liver transplant performed.

1966—First successful pancreas transplant performed.

1963—First organ recovery from a brain dead donor.

1962/1963—First kidney, lung, and liver transplants recovered from deceased donors.

1960—First successful kidney transplant performed between siblings who were not twins.

1959—First successful kidney transplant performed between fraternal twins.

1954—First successful kidney transplant performed. A living donor gave a kidney to his identical twin.

1906—First transplant of a cornea performed.

1869—First skin transplant performed.

 


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