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Gift of Life Donor Program is U.S. Leader in Saving Lives!

January 4, 2019

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Region Breaks Two National Records in 2018
Most Organ Donors and Life-Saving Organ Transplants

Philadelphia, PA – For the 11th consecutive year, Gift of Life Donor Program is the nation’s leading organ procurement organization (OPO), coordinating the most life-saving organs for transplant among all 58 U.S. OPOs.

Gift of Life broke two national records in 2018, representing the highest totals ever recorded for organ donors and transplants for a U.S.-based OPO in a single year. The Gift of Life region led the nation in:

  • Organ donors – coordinated life-saving gifts from 615 organ donors
  • Organs transplanted – donations resulted in 1,671 organs transplanted

Gift of Life’s annual donation rate, 55 organ donors-per-million-population, and annual transplant rate, 149 transplants-per-million population, both rank among the highest in the world.

“We are so proud to serve a community that year-after-year is the most generous in the nation,” says Gift of Life President and CEO Howard M. Nathan.

Gift of Life serves 11.2 million people across the eastern half of Pennsylvania, southern New Jersey and Delaware.

In 2018, Gift of Life also recovered tissue from 2,503 donors, including 1,368 musculoskeletal donors and 2,009 cornea donors. These life-enhancing donations can benefit more than 100,000 people, with bone donations for orthopedic and sports injuries, heart valve donations to repair life-threatening defects, skin donations for reconstructive surgery and to heal burn patients, and corneas to provide the gift of sight.

“Our community understands the fundamental human responsibility of neighbor helping neighbor.

Registering to become an organ and tissue donor is one of the purest acts of kindness you can do as a human being,” Nathan continues.  “Each of those organ and tissue donors and donor families selflessly said yes to donation in a time of grief, so they could save and enhance the lives of others.” Listen to one family’s story in this interview with a donor mother who lost her teenage son in a tragic accident:

Leader in Building Community

Gift of Life partners with 128 acute care hospitals and 15 transplant centers across its region in its life-saving work. “Gift of Life and the hospital critical care teams work side-by- side, 24/7 to ensure that donation is provided as an option to families,” says Gift of Life Vice President of Clinical Services Richard D. Hasz.

“The dedication and compassion that they exhibit as they care for families through the entire donation and transplantation process is truly exceptional.”

These important partnerships have helped build an extremely strong culture of donation throughout the Gift of Life region. Gift of Life annually recognizes hospitals with its Gift of Life Award for championing organ donation.  Listen to this year’s award winners as they reflect upon caring for families and their work with Gift of Life.

Currently, approximately 114,000 people are waiting for a life-saving organ in the U.S. and every day, 20 people die waiting.  In Gift of Life’s region, there are more than 5,000 men, women and children awaiting a life-saving transplant. Listen to one family’s story of waiting and loss in this interview, underscoring the need for more people to register as organ donors:

Donate Life America estimates that if every potential donor were registered, the number of lives saved each year would double. Last year there were more than 34,000 life-saving transplants in the U.S. In Gift of Life’s region, registration rates vary, ranging in Pennsylvania from a low of 31.8 percent in Philadelphia County to a high of 59.2 percent in Centre County, with an average of 47.9 percent across the state. The average registration rate is 40.2 percent in southern New Jersey and 52 percent in Delaware.

“Our community should be so proud of how we lead the nation in saving lives through organ donation,” says Gift of Life Vice President of Administration & General Counsel Jan L. Weinstock, Esq., “but we must not forget that there remains a tremendous gap between the number of people waiting for organs and the number of people receiving transplants. We urgently need more people to register as organ donors to help fill that void and save more lives.”

It only takes 30 seconds to register as an organ and tissue donor.

Leader in Patient and Family Support

More and more families are traveling to Philadelphia for transplant care. The Gift of Life Family House provides affordable lodging, meals and supportive services for transplant patients and their families from out of the area.  In 2018, Gift of Life Family House staff and volunteers provided 10,025 lodging nights of care for 17,594 guests, 35,188 meals, and 1,144 rides to and from hospitals. Since its founding in July 2011, with community support the Family House has provided more than 56,925 lodging nights for 104,842 guests, served more than 209,684 meals and provided more than $7.5 million in uncompensated care to families. In 2018, its occupancy rate was 91.51 percent, which meant that many nights the House was at full capacity.  To enable it to serve more families, the Family House recently launched its Room For More Campaign.

Events like the Donate Life Transplant Games of America celebrate the success of organ donation and transplantation.  Competing athletes are living donors and organ and tissue recipients. Gift of Life has championed this extraordinary event since its inception in 1982.  In August 2018, Gift of Life’s Team Philadelphia once again was the largest and won the most medals of all traveling teams at the biennial event in Salt Lake City, Utah.  Listen to this young member of Team Philadelphia speak with gratitude about her second chance at life:

Leader in Innovation & Advocacy

Gift of Life is recognized internationally for its leadership and scholarship in the field of organ and tissue donation.  The Gift of Life Institute is the international leader in organ and tissue donation education, training close to 9,500 professionals from 39 countries since its creation in 2004 – including Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, India, Iran, Japan, Mexico, the Philippines and United Arab Emirates. The Institute has also facilitated more than 380 workshops with 58 OPOs and multiple tissue banks.

The Institute’s Transplant Pregnancy Registry International (TPR) studies post-transplant parenthood and the effects of medications on fertility and pregnancy.   Since 1991, TPR has tracked more than 4,600 post-transplant pregnancies, sharing information with countless transplant recipients and their healthcare teams making family planning decisions. TPR is the only Registry of its kind in the world.  Its team has presented their findings in more than 560 peer-reviewed publications and at academic forums world-wide.

A champion for increasing access to organ and tissue donation, Gift of Life was one of the driving forces behind the Donate Life Act of 2018.  It marked the most significant update to Pennsylvania’s organ donor laws in close to 25 years. The bill works to increase organ and tissue donation, as well as extend public and professional education on this topic.

About Gift of Life Donor Program

Gift of Life Donor Program is the non-profit, federally-designated organ procurement organization, serving 11.2 million people across Delaware, southern New Jersey and the eastern half of Pennsylvania. Its annual donation rate ranks among the highest in the world. Since 1974, Gift of Life has coordinated more than 47,000 life-saving organs for transplant, and approximately one million tissue transplants have resulted from the generosity of donors and their families.  One organ donor can save the lives of up to eight people, and a tissue donor can enhance the lives of more than 75 others. For more information or to register, click here.