341 Lives Saved in 2020 Despite COVID-19 Global Pandemic

Nearly 28,000 patients were healed thanks to donors in metro D.C.

Washington Regional Transplant Community (WRTC), the non-profit organ procurement organization in the metro D.C. area, announced today that despite challenges the COVID-19 global pandemic presented for the healthcare industry, WRTC was able to continue its mission of saving lives through organ, eye and tissue donation. Last year, WRTC recovered and allocated 399 lifesaving organs from 127 generous donors. These organs, which include hearts, lungs, kidneys, pancreata, livers and intestines, saved the lives of 341 individuals throughout the metro D.C. area and across the United States.

WRTC also recovered gifts from 372 tissue donors, enhancing the lives of up to 27,900 people. These patients received corneas to restore sight, skin to heal burns, heart valves to repair defects and bones to correct injuries. WRTC also recovered and allocated organs and tissues for vital medical research from 99 donors and assisted with 48 living kidney donor surgeries at local transplant centers.

“While we did see a decline in donors because of the pandemic’s impact, the good news is hundreds of donations and lifesaving transplants still occurred in the metro D.C. area. The pandemic has placed a major burden on our hospital partners, but we continue to be agile and innovative as we work together to save lives through donation,” said Lori Brigham, President and CEO of WRTC. “Our mission continues in 2021 and we are committed to preserving every donation opportunity and maximizing the number of lives that can be saved and healed. We have deep appreciation and admiration for altruistic donors and their courageous families for giving these precious gifts.”

“We have much gratitude for our 45 hospital partners for their consistent collaboration and tenacity throughout this ongoing health crisis. These healthcare heroes continue to work tirelessly day in and out to provide hope and healing to our communities,” said Kenny Boyd, Director of Hospital Services & Professional Education at WRTC. “Thank you for being our heroes and your extraordinary efforts to continuously provide families with the opportunity to choose donation.”

Remarkably despite the strain on hospitals nationwide, there was a record number of organ transplants from deceased donors in the U.S. in 2020. A total of 12,587 people provided one or more organs to save and enhance the lives of others, representing an increase of six percent over 2019, according to preliminary data from the Organ Procurement and Transplantation Network.

The number of transplants has doubled over the past two decades as transplantation has proven to be an acceptable form of therapy for patients with end-stage organ failure. There are currently 108,114 patients on the national transplant waiting list, and more than 2,000 of them are here in the metro D.C. area.

“People are dying every day because the organ they need is not donated in time. In recent months, we have witnessed the debilitating effects of the COVID-19 virus, and the need for several COVID survivors to receive lung transplants as part of their recovery,” said Brigham. “The pandemic underscores the importance of everyone registering to be an organ, eye and tissue donor so together we can save and heal more lives.” 

WRTC works in partnership with six transplant centers and 45 hospitals to decrease the number of patients waiting for a lifesaving organ. It also educates the public about donation with the goal of increasing the number of registered donors and ultimately saving more lives. To learn more, and register to be a donor, visit BeADonor.org.