Philadelphia, PA –
For the ninth year, Gift of Life Donor Program – the non-profit, federally designated organ procurement organization (OPO) serving the eastern half of Pennsylvania, southern New Jersey and Delaware – is the nation’s leading OPO with its successful coordination of life-saving organs from 540 organ donors, whose generous gifts resulted in 1,412 organs transplanted. This milestone is the first time an OPO has achieved this level of donation (over 500 organ donors) in the history of organ donation and transplantation. In December, Gift of Life also broke the national monthly record, with 62 donors and 167 organs transplanted. Gift of Life’s annual donation rate equates to 49 organ donors-per-million-population, ranking it among the highest in the world.
Gift of Life also recovered tissue from 2,575 donors in 2016. These life-saving and enhancing donations may benefit up to 100,000 people, with 1,305 bone donations to improve mobility, skin donations to heal burn patients and heart valve donations to repair life-threatening defects. Those donors also provided 4,500 corneas that gave the gift of sight.
“Gift of Life’s record-setting year is possible only because of the selflessness of our donors and their families. Their strength and compassion in the face of often unimaginable grief is humbling.” said Howard M. Nathan, President & CEO, Gift of Life Donor Program. “Since 1974, we have advocated for donor families, transplant recipients and the thousands of people on the transplant waiting list. We are extremely grateful for the exceptional talent and commitment of our hospital partners – the 15 transplant centers and 131 acute care hospitals in the region – and our incredibly skilled and dedicated staff who work 24/7. They truly give people a second chance at life.”
Many of these remarkable stories are shared on Gift of Life’s Second Chance Blog. The profiles include a high school senior who is back to starting at varsity soccer after a heart transplant; a family who in the 30 years since their son was a donor have talked to more than 200,000 students about the importance of donation; and the grace of a father of three young children who has been waiting for a life-saving kidney transplant for more than two years.
The legacy of donation continues for generations, with many transplant recipients starting families of their own. In 2016, Gift of Life Institute’s Transplant Pregnancy Registry International (TPR) celebrated its 25th anniversary. Since 1991, TPR has tracked over 4,000 post-transplant pregnancies, sharing information with countless transplant recipients making family planning decisions. The Institute is the international leader in organ and tissue donation education, training close to 9,000 professionals from 37 countries since 2004.
Gift of Life’s devotion to the transplant community also includes a “home away from home” for transplant patients and their families. In 2016, Gift of Life Family House staff and volunteers provided more than 8,605 lodging nights of care, 30,244 meals, and 1,677 rides to and from hospitals.. Since its founding in July 2011, the Family House has provided more than 36,000 lodging nights and served 141,628 meals.
With ongoing advancement in transplantation, the need for donation grows. Approximately 22 people die each day in the U.S. waiting for an organ transplant. There are more than 5,600 men, women and children waiting in this region and over 119,000 nationally. While 95 percent of people support donation, less than half are registered, even though it takes fewer than 30 seconds online.