Abdominal organs: Term that refers to organs located below the diaphragm, to include the liver, pancreas, kidneys, stomach and intestine.
ABO: Abbreviation for the ABO system of identifying an individual’s blood group; this system is based on the presence or absence of key antigens. There are four blood groups: O, A, B, and AB
Allocation: The system of ensuring that organs and tissues are distributed fairly to patients who are in need; this process is coordinated through the United Network for Organ Sharing(UNOS),which develops national organ allocation policies
Allograft: Tissues, such as skin, bone or corneas, which are transplanted from one individual to another of the same species.
American Association of Tissue Banks (AATB): Professional, non-profit, scientific and educational organization, based in Virginia. It is the only national tissue banking organization in the United States, and its membership totals more than 100 accredited tissue banks and 1,000 individual members. AATB also oversees and manages the accreditation process for tissue banks.
American Society of Transplant Physicians (ASTP): The national scientific society of physicians specializing in transplant medicine such as cardiologists, nephrologists, and hepatologists.
American Society of Transplant Surgeons (ASTS): The national scientific society of surgeons specializing in transplant surgery.
Antibody: A protein substance made by the body’s immune system in response to the introduction of a foreign substance, such as an organ transplant, blood transfusion or pregnancy. Due to this antibody response, the recipient must take immunosuppressive drugs to ensure their body does not reject the transplant.
Antigen: Any substance, that when introduced to the body, stimulates the production of antibodies and elicits an immune response specifically directed at the introduced substance; receiving an organ transplant is an example of this phenomenon.
Association of Organ Procurement Organizations (AOPO): The non-profit organization recognized as the national representative for the U.S.’s fifty-eight federally-designated organ procurement organizations OPO’s). AOPO also oversees and manages the accreditation process for OPOs
Autograft: Tissue, such as skin or bone that is transplanted from one site on an individual’s body to another site.
Bone marrow: A substance found in most bone cavities that produces platelets, red blood cells, and white blood cells.
Brain death: The irreversible cessation of all functions of the brain and brainstem, as determined by the patient’s attending physician and appropriate consultants, using national testing guidelines developed by the American Academy of Neurology. Brain death is a medical and legal definition of death.
Certified Procurement Transplant Coordinator (CPTC): The certification which denotes expertise and experience in the organ procurement process; this certification is offered through the North American Transplant Coordinator’s Organization (NATCO).
Certified Tissue Bank Specialist (CTBS): The certification which denotes expertise and experience in the tissue donation and processing process; this certification is offered through AATB.
Cornea: The transparent layer which covers the pupil and iris of the eye and is essential to eyesight.
Corneal transplant: Surgical removal of damaged or diseased corneal tissue and replacement with donated human cornea tissue, with the goal of restoring eyesight
Crossmatch (CM): The testing of donor blood and tissues with recipient blood to determine if the organ will be suitable for transplant. A positive crossmatch means they ARE NOT compatible and a negative crossmatch means they ARE compatible.
Death: There are two methods for determining death:1) death by cardiac criteria, which occurs when there is the cessation of heart and lung function; and 2) death by neurologic criteria (brain death) which occurs when there is irreversible and permanent cessation of all brain function, including the brain stem.
Dialysis: Mechanical methods of cleansing the blood which is performed for people with types of kidney disease which prevent this filtering process from occurring naturally
Division of Transplantation (DOT): The branch of the federal government that oversees donation and transplantation. DOT is part of the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA).
Document of gift: Documentation by an individual regarding their wishes to be an organ and tissue donor. This documentation can take the form of a driver’s license, donor registry, living will, advance directive, or other signed document.
Durable Power of Attorney: A document in which individuals may designate who shall make medical decisions for them when they are unable to speak for themselves. This document can be individually tailored to an individual’s needs and may include information about their wishes regarding donation
End-stage Renal Disease (ESRD): The point at which the kidneys can no longer function to maintain life. An individual with ESRD will die without a kidney transplant or dialysis.
First Person Authorization: Legislation that allows donor designation to be indicated on a driver's license, donor registry or other signed donor document, and which gives hospitals and organ procurement organizations the legal authority to proceed with organ procurement based on this first person designation
Human lymphocyte antigens (HLA): also known as an individual’s tissue type. In the organ transplantation process, the donor and recipient’s tissue typing information is used to determine if the organ will be compatible
HLA lab: A histocompatibility (tissue typing) lab, which does histocompatibility testing on all donors and recipients to ensure the compatability of the transplant.
Informed consent: Informed consent refers to the process by which the legal next of kin is given sufficient information and support in making the decision to donate the organs of a loved one, when their loved one has not already designated their wishes to be a donor
Kidneys: Either of the two organs in the lower mid-back region that filters the blood, excreting the end-products of body functions in the form of urine. They regulate the concentration of chemicals and fluid and maintain acid-base balance in the body.
Liver: This organ is located in the upper right side of the abdomen just beneath the diaphragm. Its main functions include storage and filtration of blood, secretion of bile, conversion of sugars into glycogen, and many other metabolic activities.
Living related donor: A living individual who shares an organ or tissue with a relative for transplantation.
Living will: A written statement executed by an individual requesting that certain types of life sustaining treatments or medical care be limited of discontinued or when the individual’s condition is terminal. A living will may also indicate the individual’s wishes to be a donor
Next-of-kin (NOK): A relative who may grant authorization for the donation of organs and tissues as defined by the Uniform Anatomical Gift Act, when the individual has not already designated their wishes through a driver’s license, donor registry, or other document of gift
National Organ Transplant Act (NOTA): Passed by Congress in 1984, NOTA outlaws the sale of human organs, initiated the development of a national system for organ sharing, and created a scientific registry to collect and report transplant data.
Nicholas Effect: Refers to Nicholas Green, the seven-year old boy who was shot and killed by road bandits while vacationing in Italy with his family, and became an organ donor there. The outpouring of support for donation in Italy, and throughout the world, following his death is referred to as the Nicholas Effect.
North American Transplant Coordinator’s Organization (NATCO): Voluntary professional membership organization for procurement and transplant professionals, providing education and training resources
Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act of 1986: Requires any Medicare funded hospital to have a written donation protocol, organ procurement organization notification system and a framework for the clinical management of potential donors.
Organ donor: A person who donates his/her organs for the purpose of life-saving transplantation or research.
Organ procurement: The collaborative process among donor hospitals, organ procurement organizations, and transplant centers for coordinating the donation of organs
Organ procurement organization (OPO): OPO’s serve as the integral link between the potential donor and recipient and are responsible for authorization process, as well as the recovery, preservation and transportation of organs for transplantation. They provide dedicated support to donor families throughout the process, as well as extensive aftercare. As a resource to the communities they serve, they are proactive and engage in public education regarding the critical need for organ and tissue donation. OPO’s work within a specific geographic service area, defined by the federal government, in collaboration with the acute care hospitals and transplant centers in that area.
Organ Procurement and Transplantation Network (OPTN): Established by federal legislation in 1984 to develop a system to equitably allocate available organs through a national computerized prioritizing system. Funds are appropriated through federal legislation established the Division of Transplantation (DOT).
Rejection: The immunologic process whereby the body begins to attack the transplanted organ which it has recognized as foreign.
Renal: Term associated with the kidneys.
Serologies: Study of blood serum and its constituents, to determine the presence of any communicable diseases and ensure the safety of transplants. UNOS policies establish the tests which are required to be performed for organ donors; AATB standards outline the tests which are required for tissue donors
Status: Indicates the degree of medical urgency for patients awaiting transplants; each organ system has a unique algorithm established for determining medical urgency
Tissue bank: A facility which performs processing techniques for donated tissue, in accordance with FDA guidelines and AATB standards. The processed tissue is then available for distribution to physicians, surgeons, and hospitals for transplantation into patients in need
Tissue donation: The surgical recovery of tissues from a donor, such as skin, bone, cardiovascular tissue, and corneas, for the purposes of transplantation.
Tissue typing: The process of identifying a person’s genetic (HLA) make-up for the purpose of transplantation. This process is performed for both the donor and recipients to ensure the recipient will not reject the organ.
Thoracic: Term that refers to organs located above the diaphragm in the chest cavity, to include the heart and lungs.
United Network for Organ Sharing (UNOS): The private, non-profit organization, based in Richmond, Virginia, that manages the nation's organ transplant system under contract with the federal government through the OPTN
U.S. Scientific Registry of Transplant Recipients: An extensive database that tracks transplant information. Follow-up data on every transplant performed in the U.S are used to track transplant center performance, transplant success rates and medical issues impacting transplant recipients
Universal Anatomical Gift Act (UAGA): The federal law that provides all citizens the right to determine the disposition of their organs after death. The act stipulates the autonomy of an individual to designate their wishes regarding donation, as well as the next of kin hierarchy used in the authorization process, when an individual has not already documented their donation wishes. This law also provides legal protection for donor hospital and organ procurement staff who act in good faith in the donation process.
Universal Determination of Death Act (UDDA): This federal act states the legal definition of death by neurologic criteria and cardiac criteria. Death by neurologic criteria, or brain death, is defined as the irreversible cessation of the all functions of the brain, including the brain stem. Death by cardiac criteria is defined as the cessation of cardiopulmonary function.