Nearly 31,000 organs were transplanted in the United States in 2015 alone. Even with this success almost 120,000 people are still on the transplant list, and every year more than 50,000 people are added to this list.
UNOS matches organ donors with organ recipients. Alex Tulchinsky, Chief Technology Officer of UNOS, describes his organization as the Match.com of organ matching. He stresses that UNOS is the critical component of a no-fail system.
When an organ becomes available, the race is on. Organs have a very short life span outside of a human body. Kidneys, for instance, can only survive for 48 hours before they must be transplanted. Hearts and livers have even less time. UNOS must rapidly decide to whom an organ will be offered. Yet the decision is never as simple as looking at the top of a list.
The matching considerations are anatomical, administrative, and medical. The recipient’s blood type and the size of the organ must match a recipient’s specific anatomy. Administrative factors include the time that a recipient has been awaiting a transplant and the geographic distance between the donor and recipient. The medical urgency facing a candidate, the immune-system compatibility between the donor and recipient, and the age of the recipient are all factors as well.
From the very beginning, UNOS has been a data-centric organization. They have data on every organ transplant performed in the United States since October of 1987. However UNOS lacked an enterprise data warehouse (EDW). Their data analytics system was built on SAS, which provided analytics but was unable to merge disparate and large data sources, especially those with less structured or variable data formats.
Give the gift of hope! To become a life-saving organ donor, visit www.unos.org. This website will give you information on becoming a donor.