The extraordinary role OPOs play in saving lives through organ donation

We at MediGO support all the medical organizations involved in making kidney transplants possible. This March, as we salute National Kidney Month, we’d also like to honor the extraordinary work done by OPOs across the country.

Organ Procurement Organizations, commonly known as OPOs, are non-profit organizations responsible for saving and enhancing the quality of life through organ, tissue and eye donation and transplantation.

To date, there are just 57 OPOs throughout the U.S.

How are OPOs different from transplant centers?

A transplant center’s role is to review organ availabilities and decide whether they are suitable for their transplant patients.

The OPO carries out the organ donation process to save lives through organ transplantation.

The role of an OPO manager is not only delicate, but critical.

After all lifesaving attempts have been exhausted and a patient has been declared dead by a hospital physician, the organ donation clock begins ticking. There are multiple time-sensitive steps dedicated to recovering as many healthy organs as possible for those waiting on the national transplant waiting list.

Working directly with the patient’s family, OPOs initiate compassionate discussions about the rare opportunity their loved one has to give the gift of life through organ and tissue donation. OPOs continue to support the donor’s family throughout the entire donation process and well after for and months, sometimes years, to follow.

The OPO is responsible for making sure each healthy available organ is quickly and precisely entered into the national registry for organs. This shared master list is used by transplant centers across the U.S. for matching donor organs to waiting recipients.

For every successful match, the OPO facilitates testing, the recovery of donor organs and coordinates delivery logistics to the transplant hospital. There is no charge of any kind for the donor family for organ procurement and donation.


No nation recovers more organs from deceased donors than we do in the U.S.

As a result of the hard work of OPOs:

  • The number of organ donations from deceased donors has doubled over the last 20 years.
  • Deceased donations have increased more than 10 percent in 2020 (the eleventh consecutive record year).
  • More than 41,350 total transplants were performed in 2021.
  • Forty-five OPOs set all-time records in 2021 for donor organs recovered in a single year.

These increases are especially significant when you consider that fewer than one percent of people die in a way that allows for organ donation.

Together with OPOs and transplant hospitals, MediGO is working to improve transparency during organ transport to unify decentralized stakeholders, coordinate resources, and make vital decisions – to improve quality and deliver confidence. Our shared goal is to make sure more healthy donated organs, like kidneys, get to more destinations in time and save even more lives.