Development of the New Lung Allocation System in the United States


  • *Note on sources: The articles in this report are based on the reference tables in the 2005 OPTN/SRTR Annual Report, which are not included in this publication. Many relevant data appear in the tables figures included here; other tables from the Annual Report that serve as the basis for this article include the following: Tables 12.2, 12.3 and 13.4. All of these tables may be found online at


This article reviews the development of the new U.S. lung allocation system that took effect in spring 2005. In 1998, the Health Resources and Services Administration of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services published the Organ Procurement and Transplantation Network (OPTN) Final Rule. Under the rule, which became effective in 2000, the OPTN had to demonstrate that existing allocation policies met certain conditions or change the policies to meet a range of criteria, including broader geographic sharing of organs, reducing the use of waiting time as an allocation criterion and creating equitable organ allocation systems using objective medical criteria and medical urgency to allocate donor organs for transplant. This mandate resulted in reviews of all organ allocation policies, and led to the creation of the Lung Allocation Subcommittee of the OPTN Thoracic Organ Transplantation Committee. This paper reviews the deliberations of the Subcommittee in identifying priorities for a new lung allocation system, the analyses undertaken by the OPTN and the Scientific Registry for Transplant Recipients and the evolution of a new lung allocation system that ranks candidates for lungs based on a Lung Allocation Score, incorporating waiting list and posttransplant survival probabilities.