2017 Record Breaking Tissue Donation Year in CO and WY; More Than 1 Million Names Added to Donor Registries

Donor Alliance, the federally designated non-profit organization that facilitates organ and tissue donation in Colorado and most of Wyoming, recorded another remarkable year for organ and tissue donation and transplantation, helping save the lives of 407 people through organ transplantation in 2017. The organization also worked with a record 1,752 tissue donors and their families to recover the lifesaving and healing tissue that will provide bone and skin grafts to thousands of recipients in need.

The organization, which also educates the public on organ and tissue donation and manages the state donor registries in Colorado and Wyoming, also announced that 984,557 names in Colorado and 80,405 names in Wyoming were added to the organ and tissue donor registries in 2017. The donor designation rate, or percentage of individuals joining the state donor registry, reached 67.98 percent in Colorado and 58.58 percent in Wyoming. The two states maintained some of the highest donor designation rates in the country.

“We are inspired by the generosity of the 144 donors and their families in Colorado and Wyoming who helped save the lives of 407 people last year,” said Sue Dunn, Donor Alliance president and CEO. “We are also grateful to all of the residents throughout our region that have made the decision to register as organ, eye and tissue donors. The strong donor designation rates in our region translate to more lives saved and healed through transplantation.”

The region saw another record-setting year for tissue donation and transplantation, including bone, joint restoration, skin and heart valves. Working with the families of 1,752 generous tissue donors in 2017, enough tissue was recovered to save and heal the lives of tens of thousands in need, through procedures such as coronary bypass, knee reconstruction and spinal fusion. As medical technology advances and eligibility criteria expand, it has become possible to utilize more types of tissue, which has allowed more people to give the gift of life through tissue donation. Additionally, Colorado and Wyoming’s increasing number of registered donors has translated into more tissue available for transplant.

In addition to the increase in tissue donors, Donor Alliance, which manages the complex medical process of recovering organs and tissue for transplant, facilitated organ recoveries from 144 donors in 2017, the highest number ever, helping make 407 lifesaving transplants possible.

According to the Rocky Mountain Lions Eye Bank, the nonprofit organization that facilitates the donation and transplantation of donated eye tissues in Colorado and Wyoming, there were 2,687 eye donors in the two-state area. The donations resulted in 2,692 sight-restoring corneal transplants. The numbers represent a 32 percent increase in eye tissue donations and a 31 percent increase in corneal transplants from just five years ago in 2012 and are an all-time high in the eye bank’s 35 year history.

Despite the generosity of donor family members and the efforts of Donor Alliance staff and partner organizations, just over 2,500 people in the area continue to wait for a lifesaving transplant. For more information about donation, or to register as an organ, eye and tissue donor, please visit DonateLifeColorado.org or DonateLifeWyoming.org.

ORGAN Donation20132014201520162017
Local Organ Donors148109134139144
Kidney Transplants241176226233246
Liver Transplants10972798488
Heart Transplants4337545443
Lung Transplants4542594424
Pancreas Transplants2491086
Small Intestine Transplant11010
Total Local Organs Transplanted 463337428424407
TISSUE Donation20132014201520162017
Local Tissue Donors1,1771,5901,6741,7101,752
Bone Donors660830911822832
Skin Donors1,0761,3861,4011,3201,503
Heart Valve Donors111114117168140
Joint Restoration Donors1061121198997