KIDNEY TRANSPLANT Photo by BSIP / Universal Images Group via Getty Images

According to a confidential report obtained by The Washington Post, the nonprofit that runs the organ transplant network in the US has never been audited by the federal government.

The UNOS has two responsibilities, one of which is to decide how to prioritize organ distribution. According to The Washington Post, the White House's US Digital Service compiled a draft report in January of 2021.

The UNOS gets money from the Health Resources and Services Administration. According to the report, HRSA doesn't have the technical expertise to push the network to improve.

There are a few glaring technical deficiencies in the report.

  • The UNOS computer system has crashed for a total of 17 days since 1999. Once, it was down for three hours — a worrying amount of time because organs can start breaking down and become nonviable for transplant in only four hours.
  • UNOS runs most of its systems out of a local data center rather than a cloud computing system, which would improve its performance.
  • It requires manual data entry.
  • UNOS has never allowed government officials to see the full code behind the system, which the organization says is a trade secret.

According to a letter from senators to the Department of Homeland Security, there are security weaknesses in the UNOS systems. UNOS does not have any requirements for cyber security. UNOS chief executive officer Brian Shepard will testify at the Senate Finance Committee's hearing on the US organ system.

The transplant system is secure and effective according to Shepard, who told The Washington Post that the Department of Health and Human Services audits the system annually.

UNOS is the only group that has ever done transplants in the US. According to The Washington Post, the contract is likely to be up for bid in three years.

The Washington Post quoted HRSA as saying it was committed to modernizing the Organ Procurement and Transplantation Network.