PHILADELPHIA, PA. – In April, organ transplants reached a new milestone as families, transplant coordinators, hospital teams and the community came together to achieve a national record-high number of organ donors and transplants in the Gift of Life Donor Program region in a single month.
Gift of Life coordinated 79 organ donors and 235 life-saving organs for transplant – the most ever in one month by a U.S. organ procurement organization (OPO).
“These historic results show us what is possible,” said Richard D. Hasz, Jr., MFS, CPTC, President and CEO of Gift of Life Donor Program. “Every day, families rely on OPOs to save the lives of their loved ones who need a transplant. Gift of Life harnesses the power of innovation, expertise, and collaboration as our staff works diligently around the clock to make the most of every single opportunity for donation and save more lives.”
Gift of Life set an additional national record by coordinating 127 kidneys for transplant in April, surpassing its previous record of 117 in July 2021. Kidneys are the organ needed by the majority of patients on the national waitlist and are the focus of a CMS (Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services) and HRSA (Health Resources and Services Administration) initiative to improve kidney utilization and access.
In addition, Gift of Life also had its highest monthly donation activity for gifts of healing. The OPO coordinated 138 musculoskeletal donors throughout its region. Gift of Life Eye Bank, which covers 19 hospitals in central Pennsylvania, coordinated 39 cornea donors, resulting in 61 cornea transplants in April.
“These milestones began with each donor hero and their family who chose the ultimate act of kindness to help strangers in need. We are inspired and fueled by their generosity and the critical need facing the 5,000 people in our region waiting for a life-saving organ. We strive for a day when no one dies waiting for a transplant,” Hasz said.
Gift of Life’s leadership in saving lives through donation includes a strategy of:
- Building a strong, passionate team of donation professionals who respond on site at hospitals to ensure families are given the opportunity for donation in a sensitive and caring manner
- Engaging hospital partners to be champions of donation and work side by side with Gift of Life in supporting donor heroes and their families throughout the donation process
- Using the latest organ preservation technologies to provide transplant teams the ability to use organs from donors with a medically complex history
- Participating as an OPO leader in the End Stage Renal Disease Treatment Choices Learning Collaborative to share effective practices to increase kidney transplant rates
- Implementing National Academies of Science, Engineering and Medicine (NASEM) recommendations by opening the Gift of Life Donor Care Center at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia to better care for donor patients and families
Gift of Life’s efforts to build a communitywide culture of donation during April featured outreach events and initiatives supported by its partners and hundreds of Volunteer Ambassadors:
- Gift of Life’s 26th Annual Donor Dash was an overwhelming success, drawing more than 10,000 participants from throughout its tri-state region, raising more than $540,000 for programs to support donor families and transplant recipients. The event also drew virtual participants from 30 states, Washington, D.C. and Ireland.
- More than 90 events were held to raise awareness for and to support organ donation registration throughout the region with Houses of Worship, high schools, universities, community health centers and service organizations.
- More than 100 events, including Donate Life Flag Raisings to honor donor heroes, hospital events, educational seminars and grand rounds were held in partnership with hospitals and transplant centers throughout the Gift of Life region.
- Government officials in all three states issued proclamations, shared social media and met with Gift of Life staff to build support for organ donation.
“April was National Donate Life Month. We received tremendous support from hospitals, legislators, media, our volunteers and, of course, our extraordinary staff at hundreds of events celebrating the power of donation and encouraging everyone to register as a donor,” Hasz said. “Now, we have these historic achievements in donation and transplants to give us even more momentum, so that every waitlist patient can receive a second chance at life. Our community has come together to show what can be done – 235 life-saving transplants in one region, in one month. Let’s make every month Donate Life Month!”
Gift of Life Donor Program
Gift of Life Donor Program is the non-profit, federally designated organ procurement organization, working with 126 acute care hospitals and 13 transplant centers to serve 11.3 million people in the eastern half of Pennsylvania, southern New Jersey and Delaware. Thanks to its compassionate community, for the past 15 years, Gift of Life has coordinated the most organ donors in the United States. Its annual donation rate, 61 organ donors-per-million-population, ranks among the highest in the world. Since 1974, Gift of Life has coordinated more than 58,000 life-saving organs for transplant, and approximately 2 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 improve the lives of about 100 others. For more information or to register, visit donors1.org.