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Once you are accepted for transplantation, you are listed with the United Network for Organ Sharing (UNOS). This national organization utilizes a sophisticated database and allocation system to match transplant recipients with available organs.

The names and medical profiles of newly-accepted transplant patients are added to the UNOS database and the waiting list automatically updates. When an organ donor becomes available, the system generates a list of patients who match the donor organ.

How matches are made

Matches are based on locality (where the patient is listed), blood type, and the patient's size, height and lung allocation score (LAS). LAS is a lung allocation system implemented in 2005 to maximize the benefits of precious donor resources. When LAS was implemented, the waiting time for donor organs at Inova Fairfax Hospital fell dramatically from a median wait time of 170 days to a median of 95 days.

Each patient receives an LAS score based on his or her unique medical information and numerous other factors. The score helps estimate the severity of each candidate's illness and the chance of success following transplantation. Donated organs are always first distributed locally within a 600-mile radius. If a suitable match for the organ does not exist in the local area, the organ is offered regionally and then nationally.

Coordinating on a local level

Patients are also listed with UNOS through our local Organ Procurement Organization, Washington Regional Transplant Community (WRTC). WRTC serves as the vital link between the donor and recipient. They retrieve, preserve, and transport organs for transplantation.

WRTC works closely with UNOS and Inova Transplant Center physicians to coordinate and streamline the transplant process. Currently Inova Transplant Center is the only lung transplant program within WRTC's region, which means Inova patients experience relatively short waiting times for donor lungs.