Press Release

July 24, 2023
Cardin, Young Introduce Bill to Ensure Lifesaving Organs Reach Patients

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senators Ben Cardin (D-Md.) and Todd Young (R-Ind.) introduced bipartisan legislation to help prevent lifesaving organs from getting lost in transport. The Lost Opportunities to Supply Transplantable (LOST) Organs Act would require the U.S. organ donation system, managed by the United Network for Organ Sharing (UNOS), to better track organs and publicly report when logistics errors result in a lost, damaged, or delayed organs.

“While thousands of lives in America are saved through transplants annually, transportation failures, outdated technology and a lack of oversight have put patient lives at risk. We must do a better job for patients and their families,” said Senator Cardin. “The LOST Organs Act would require the U.S. organ transplant system to modernize organ transportation tracking to ensure patients receive their organ transplants quickly and safely.

“One lost organ is one too many,” said Senator Young. “Every day, 17 people die while on the organ transplant waiting list, and another 13 are removed from the waiting list because they’ve become too sick to receive a transplant. In total, there are more than 100,000 Americans on the organ donation waiting list today, including nearly 1,200 in my home state of Indiana. The LOST Organs Act would create greater transparency and accountability so that these critical organs aren’t getting lost, damaged, or delayed in transit.”

Roughly seven percent of shipments handled by UNOS from July 2014 to November 2019 encountered transportation problems according to data obtained by Kaiser Health News and Reveal. “Organs are typically tracked with a primitive system of phone calls and paper manifests, with no GPS or other electronic tracking required,” the investigation found. The report also stated that UNOS did not begin formally tracking transportation errors until 2016.

For years, the senators have pushed for greater transparency in the organ transplant system. The LOST Organs Act would require UNOS to track and publicly report on the status of all organs in transport. In the event that an organ is lost, damaged, or delayed, an open and transparent process would be established to determine the cause, potential corrective action, and recommendations to prevent it from happening again.

Text of the legislation is available here.