WRTC Sets Organ Donor Record in 2021 Despite the Ongoing COVID-19 Pandemic

Washington Regional Transplant Community (WRTC), the non-profit organ procurement organization in the metro D.C. area, recovered lifesaving organs from 154 deceased donor heroes in 2021, breaking an organizational record of 151 organ donors set in 2005. WRTC is humbled to also recognize an additional 28 ‘donors in spirit,’ people who intended to be donors, however, for various medical reasons, their organs were deemed not viable or transplantable at the time of their death.

From these 154 donor heroes, 422 lifesaving organs were able to be recovered and allocated, representing a 6% increase from 2020. These organs, which include hearts, lungs, kidneys, pancreases, livers and intestines, saved the lives of 367 individuals throughout the metro D.C. area and across the U.S.

In addition, WRTC facilitated gifts from 329 tissue donors, enhancing the lives of 24,675 people. These patients received corneas to restore sight, skin to heal burns, heart valves to repair defects, bones to correct injuries and tendons/ligaments to restore movement. WRTC also recovered and allocated 194 organs and tissues for vital medical research and assisted with 34 living kidney donor surgeries at local transplant centers.

“We have the utmost appreciation for the generous donors and their courageous families for giving these immeasurable gifts so that others can live,” said Lori Brigham, President and CEO of WRTC. “While we are pleased to accomplish a new organ donor record, we know our work is not done as there aren’t enough organs available for the number of people waiting for a transplant. Patients in need of an organ are still dying every day, including COVID survivors who need lung transplants, and that is why I implore everyone to register to be an organ, eye and tissue donor.” 

Nationally, the number of organ transplants continues to increase. In December 2021, the U.S. officially surpassed 40,000 transplants in one year, a historic first for the nation. As of today, 106,712 people are on the waiting list for a lifesaving transplant, which is at the lowest it has been since 2009 according to United Network for Organ Sharing (UNOS).

“It would not be possible to accomplish donation and transplantation records without the dedication of our hospital partners who are working tirelessly despite the strain and stress of the ongoing COVID pandemic,” said Kenny Boyd, Director of Hospital Services & Professional Education at WRTC. “We are in awe of the diligence and commitment of all healthcare professionals during these challenging times. It is only because of their collaboration that we can save so many 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 organ, eye and tissue donation to increase the number of registered donors, and ultimately save more lives.