24 Important Heart Transplant Waiting List Statistics


Being an organ donor is a critical component to the human experience. If something tragic happens to you and your organs are eligible for donation, then new life can be given to others in need. There is a lot of misinformation that has spread around society in general, however, and this has caused a number of people to choose not to become organ donors when they are eligible.

Statistics About the Heart Transplantation Wait List

1. The average wait time for a donor heart while on the heart transplantation wait list: 144 days.
2. On any given day, there are 3,100 people in the United States who are on the wait list.
3. 49% of the people who are on the heart transplantation wait list have been waiting for over a year.
4. The number of donor hearts that become available in Europe every year: 600.
5. In Europe, 57% of the people on the wait list have been waiting for at least one year.
6. The percentage of Europeans who have been waiting for a donor heart for at least two years: 34%.
7. A new person is added to an organ transplantation wait list every 10 minutes on average.
8. More than 3 out of every 4 heart transplant recipients are still living after 5 years past their surgery date. Only kidney transplants and living liver transplants are more successful.
9. In 2010, there were nearly 2.5 million deaths in the United States that may have been eligible for organ donation.
10. More than 120 million people are signed up for the organ donation program in the United States.
11. 61% of people who are living donors are women, but 59% of those who donate organs after death are men.
12. Donation rates almost directly follow all racial demographic information in every country or continent.
13. 18 people die every day while waiting for an organ transplant.
14. More than 123,000 people need some sort of transplant every year.
15. 98% of all adults have heard about donating their heart and other organs, but only 30% of of Americans know the actual steps that it takes to become an organ donor.
16. There are over 2,000 children that are currently on the organ transplant list.
17. The national 10 year heart transplant survival rate increased from 45.7% in 1991 to 53% in 1999
18. The number of patients with a functioning heart graft has increased by almost 50% between 1998 and 2009, from 13,715 to 20,369.
19. There is an 88% survival rate for the 12 months come after a surgery in the Midwest, the highest in the US.
20. The average length of stay in a hospital for a heart transplant is 10 days.
21. The number of heart transplants that take place around the world when artificial hearts are included: 5,000.
22. There may be up to 50,000 people who are candidates for a heart transplant.
23. It is not unusual for a heart transplant recipient to be on 10 to 12 medicines at one time.
24. About 50% of transplant recipients make it out more than 14 years.

Common Fears and Issues

One of the most common fears that people have is that the staff of a hospital or clinic won’t work as hard as they can to save their life if they have an accident. Going to a hospital for treatment means that you have doctors that are focused on saving your life. They’re not worried about who is next on the transplant list, perhaps three states away. Your doctor will be specialized in such a way that you have the best chance of life.

Another common fear is that a death certificate may be signed when someone who is an organ donor is dead yet. It’s been a popular discussion on forums and in the tabloids. If you are an organ donor, however, doctors will perform more tests to verify the status of life at no extra cost than they will if you are not an organ donor. The goal is to make sure you are no longer alive before giving new life to others.

You can be an organ donor if you are under the age of 18 if your parents authorize the decision. Organ donation is consistent with most religions and there is no cut-off age. The same is true for a heart transplant. Heart transplantation has been the standard of care for end stage heart failure over the last 20 years, but demand is outweighing the number of hearts that are available. Only 3,500 total hearts worldwide are made available to the heart transplant waiting list.

The Heart Transplant List

There may not be many people who need a heart transplant when compared to the entire population, but the need still outweighs the amount of hearts that become available to the transplant list.

Part of the reason why there is a lack of people who are organ donors is because they believe signing the back of their driver’s license of official identification is enough to authorize a donation. It is not. To become an organ donor, you will need to register with your local registry. This may be on a state level or a national level. Once that occurs, you can designate your decision on your identification.

It is also important that you speak with your family members about your decision. This helps to carry out your final wishes should they become necessary. Your loved ones will be your advocates to the medical professionals who are treating you. They’ll need to give consent and provide information to the transplantation team. To make sure all of your wishes are carried out, having legal documentation that describes your final wishes is also important.

Heart transplants can only occur when donor hearts become available. Organ donation is the only way to start helping people who need it. Choose to become an organ donor today, get registered, and you may be able to save many lives in your darkest hour.