How does the offering system work?
Learn how lungs from deceased donors are offered to patients
- It is important for donated organs to go to a patient who will benefit from it
- Patients are prioritised based on many different factors
- How long you have been waiting for an organ is also taken into account
- The organ offer will first go to your transplant team. If they feel it is suitable for you, they will get in touch
How are lungs offered?
Every donated lung is a precious gift, and it is important that the organ goes to a patient who will benefit from it.
Once a potential deceased donor is identified, blood tests are taken to check the donor’s tissue type, blood group, and to check the function of their organs. Other blood tests are taken to see whether the donor has any infections.
This information is the passed to NHS Blood and Transplant and a nationally-agreed computer programme checks the national transplant waiting list for suitable patients.
How are patients prioritised?
Patients are prioritised for a donated lung based on:
- How ill they are (urgency status)
- Their blood group
- Lung size
The way that deceased donor lungs are offered is agreed by a national committee, with advice from NHS Blood and Transplant. The national committee agrees on how patients should be prioritised and how the computer programme should run.
If the patient is on the national Urgent or Super Urgent list, they will be offered the donor lung first, once matched for blood group, size and antibody status. The person who has been on the list the longest would receive the offer.
If there are no patients on the national Urgent or Super Urgent list, the donor lung will be offered to the transplant centre that is closest to the donor hospital. If they do not have a suitable patient, the donor lung will be offered to the next centre on the list.
A national committee agrees the way that deceased donor lungs are offered, with advice from NHS Blood and Transplant. The national committee agrees on how patients should be prioritised and how the computer programme should run.
What happens if you are offered a lung?
Your transplant centre will be contacted by NHS Blood and Transplant. Your transplant team will check the donor information and your details to see whether the organ is a good match for you or not. Not all organs are suitable for all patients.
If your transplant centre thinks the lung offer is suitable for you, you will be contacted by telephone.
In the meantime, specialist surgeons (the National Organ Retrieval Service) will travel to the donor’s hospital to remove the donor’s organs. Donated organs are flushed with a special fluid to help preserve them, then packed in a box with fluid and ice.
Can offers be declined?
Yes. If you feel the organ has an unacceptably high chance of failure or other major problems, you can decline the offer and wait for another organ.
Your transplant team can also decline the offer if they feel the organ is not suitable for you.
Your transplant team may want to talk to you over the telephone about the organ’s suitability. Or they may prefer to speak directly to you about any issues when you come in to the transplant centre. Sometimes, the final decision about whether an organ is suitable for you can only be made once the organ has been looked at in the donor’s hospital.
If the organ offer is declined, it will usually be offered to another patient.