Infographic: Just How Hard Is It To Get An Organ Transplant?

And a vast majority of people are waiting for kidneys.

When I think “transplant,” for whatever reason, “heart transplant” pops in my head, as if that’s the norm. But in reality? Only 2.8% of patients in need of transplants are looking for a new heart. While about 80%--an overwhelming majority--need kidneys.

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It’s a practical piece of information conveyed by this infographic from Good and Column Five. Whereas we all know that organ wait times are bad, it charts all sorts of aspects of transplants that I’d never considered--that people of different age groups tend to need different organs, and that some people actually do get organ transplants relatively quickly.

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In fact, some extremely simple visualizations show that you’re about as likely to get a heart transplant within 60 days as you are to wait three or more years (though the average wait is one to two years). And, as you might suspect, a vast majority of people waiting for transplants are over 50.

And as for those kidneys, our need for them only grows over time. Only infants will need organs more than kidneys. Then, as the bar graphs show, kidney demand quickly supersedes all else. So by the time someone reaches 65, not only are they competing with fellow seniors for replacement parts, but every other age group, too.

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So what began as a surprising figure--that 8/10 people in line for transplants are waiting on kidneys--now seems inevitable, a narrative told to me in graphs. And it’s a bit frightening, too, since all of us have two kidneys to start with.

Click to enlarge.

[Hat tip: Visual News]

[Image: Tinydevil/Shutterstock]

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5 Comments

  • MPmom

    We got the call that a liver was available for my daughter 2 years and 8 months to the day of being listed on the waiting list. Those were the longest days of our lives. We will always be so thankful for her donor's family, who made the selfless decision to give the gift of life.

  • liverwife

    My husband was in the waiting five+ years category.  He waited for 11 years for a liver and then found out on the operating table that his liver was fine.

  • Guest

    I'm sure glad there is one for "ever 8 people" in the first few lines... please someone tell me you fact check these garbage info-graphics before posting them...

  • William D

    ""So what began as a surprising figure--that 8/10 people in line for transplants are waiting on kidneys--now seems inevitable, a narrative told to me in graphs. And it’s a bit frightening, too, since all of us have two kidneys to start with."
    Alas, as i know all too well myself, many renal deseases affect both in parallel..  Of course, we only need one transplanted organ, and we do just fine, so that helps. but having two to start with only really helps those with an injury affecting just the one original organ..