Washington Regional Transplant Community (WRTC), the non-profit organ procurement organization in the metro D.C. area, announced today that 2019 was its fourth consecutive record-breaking year of lives saved and healed by organ, eye and tissue donation. Last year, WRTC recovered and allocated 485 lifesaving organs from 145 generous donors, representing a 6% increase in donors from 2018. These organs, which include hearts, lungs, kidneys, pancreases, livers, and intestines, saved the lives of 417 individuals throughout the metro D.C. area and across the United States.
WRTC also reported an increase in tissue donors to 462, enhancing the lives of 34,650 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 organs and tissues for vital medical research from 95 donors and assisted with 38 living kidney donor surgeries at local transplant centers.
“The number of donors and transplants performed are at all-time highs on a national level and we continue to see this trend locally. We attribute our continued increases to more people saying “yes” and registering to be organ donors and to our clinical team for deploying innovative techniques to recover more organs and tissues used for transplant,” said Lori Brigham, President and CEO of WRTC. “We are committed to working in concert with our transplant centers and hospital partners to preserve every donation opportunity and maximize the number of lives that can be saved and healed. We have deep gratitude and respect for the benevolent donors and their brave families for giving these precious gifts.”
In 2019, there were 39,718 transplants performed in the United States with organs from both deceased and living donors, an 8.7 percent increase over last year and a seventh consecutive annual record. 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 112,907 patients on the national transplant waiting list, and more than 2,200 of them are here in the metro D.C. area.
“There are not enough organs available for the number of people waiting for a transplant and that means people are dying every day,” said Brigham. “We strongly encourage individuals in the metro D.C. area to make the informed and legal decision to register 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 organ, eye and tissue donation with the goal of increasing the number of registered donors, and ultimately saving more lives. To learn more, and register to be an organ, eye and tissue donor, visit BeADonor.org.