Donation Essentials Blog

What Are Organ Procurement Organizations and How Do They Save Lives?

Organ Procurement Organizations are there to Walk Alongside Those who have Made the Decision to Give the Gift of Life

Organ Procurement Organizations, or OPOs, are not-for-profit organizations the federal government designates to recover organs for transplantation from those who have passed away.

As one of 56 federally designated organ procurement organizations in the United States, Donor Alliance manages the third largest region in the country – Colorado and most of Wyoming.organ procurement organization operating room Within that region, there is a lot of ground to cover. Donor Alliance serves more than 6.3 million residents and more than 100 hospitals. Given Donor Alliance serves such a large geographical area, it’s crucial the organization continues to find ways to increase opportunities for donation.

History of Organ Procurement

In 1968, the Southeast Organ Procurement Foundation (SEOPF) was formed as a membership and scientific organization for transplant professionals. As a result of the group forming, SEOPF implemented the first-ever computer-based organ matching system in 1977, which they called the “United Network for Organ Sharing.” Creating an organ matching system had the potential to dramatically increase the number of lives saved. Additionally, SEOPF established the Kidney Center in 1982 to provide round-the-clock support for placing donated organs. This later became the UNOS Organ Center.

In 1984, U.S. Congress passed the National Organ Transplant Act (NOTA). Congress passed NOTA to address the organ donation shortage and improve the organ matching process. The act established the Organ Procurement and Transplantation Network (OPTN) to maintain a national system to match organs and individuals. The act also called for the network to be operated by a private nonprofit under federal contract. The United Network for Organ Sharing currently operates the OPTN for HRSA.

Today, the U.S. system for organ donation and recovery is among the best in the world. As a result of innovation and continuous improvement, more patients in need of an organ transplant than ever have received the gift of life.

What Donor Alliance does as an Organ Procurement Organization.  

During a difficult time, when a person has a life ending injury and is connected to ventilated support, Colorado and Wyoming hospitals contact Donor Alliance to evaluate if donation is possible. Donor Alliance talks with the family about donation, giving the gift of life, and/or honoring their loved one’s decision. A nationwide database then quickly identifies the best match for an organ recipient for transplantation. Donor Alliance walks alongside the family during the organ recovery process and ensures their loved one’s gifts are safely received at transplant centers in a timely manner. 

Always People First 

The work of Organ Procurement Organizations is crucial and includes many other support services. These include providing assistance to donor families and educating hospital staff about the importance of donation for transplantation. The waitlist does not wait. There are nearly 100,000 people in the U.S. currently waiting to receive a lifesaving transplant. Those on the waitlist depend on the work of OPOs across the country to facilitate donation and ensure these lifesaving gifts are safely provided to transplant centers in a timely manner.. 

How to Register as an Organ Donor

One person can save up to eight lives through organ donation, and it is easy to register to be  an organ donor.  Say Yes the next time you go to the DMV to obtain or renew your driver license/state ID. You can also register anytime at or  When you register, you are providing hope to the nearly 1,300 people in our community waiting for a lifesaving organ transplant.

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