Roughly 120,000 people in the United States are on waiting lists for organ transplants to prolong their lives.

About 100,000 people need kidneys; 15,000 people need livers; and all other organs combined are less than 9,000. (These numbers add up to more than 120,000 people because some people need multiple organs.)

More than 500,000 Americans currently have end-stage renal failure. Almost 50,000 people die each year from kidney disease--more than from car accidents, suicide, or drug overdoses.

Dialysis costs approximately $88,000 per patient each year, on average . Medicare spending for patients with kidney disease was nearly $60 billion in 2014 .

The only cure for end-stage renal failure is a kidney transplant. In 2016 around 17,000 transplants were done.

Seventy percent of donated kidneys came from a deceased donor. Almost all the rest were from relatives and friends of the recipients. In 2016, only 181 donors gave anonymously to people they didn’t know.

The average recipient waits four to seven years to receive a kidney, and about 5,000 people on the list die each year. Thousands of other people with kidney disease never make it onto the list because the odds of finding a kidney for them before they die are considered too low to be worth adding them to the list.

The current system works particularly poorly for minorities : African Americans are three times as likely as whites to have kidney disease. Hispanics and Native Americans are each about 50 percent more likely than whites to have kidney disease. Genetics may be responsible for some of the difference.

Once on dialysis, whites are twice as likely to get a kidney as minorities. Whites are more likely to have relatives who are healthy and a genetic match, and more likely to have the resources to navigate what can be a complex system to maximize their chances of obtaining a kidney.

The story for other organs is broadly similar, though the numbers are smaller. In short, the current system fails many people who need organ transplants.