Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Donations of Organs Set Records in Some Areas Levels Had Been Stagnant for Years

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Donations of Organs Set Records in Some Areas Levels Had Been Stagnant for Years

Article excerpt

Parts of the country had record levels of organ donation last year, raising hope that a national transplant system with growing waiting lists is moving beyond the stagnant donation levels of the past decade.

The Gift of Life Donor Program, covering Eastern Pennsylvania and parts of New Jersey and Delaware, announced Thursday that it recovered organs from 483 donors, the most ever by one of the nation's 58 organ procurement organizations. Gift of Life also held the previous national record, which it set with 447 donors in each of the previous two years.

The United Network for Organ Sharing, the nonprofit that operates the transplant system, has not yet released the final nationwide donor number for 2015. However, data from Jan. 1 through Oct. 31 suggest that the system was on pace for a milestone, partly because Gift of Life was one of several big organ procurement organizations with record numbers.

Howard M. Nathan, president and CEO of Gift of Life, estimated that the national total will be "a little over 9,000," up from 8,596 in 2014 and 8,268 in 2013. From 2006 to 2013, donor numbers had remained at about 8,000 annually despite growing waiting lists, an imbalance fueling tense discussions in the transplant community about how to allocate available organs.

As of Thursday, nearly 122,000 people were on transplant waiting lists, with about 83 percent needing a kidney.

Mr. Nathan attributed his organization's success to rapport with hospitals that call about prospective donors and "making sure every single family that's in a position to donate is offered the option in a very compassionate, sensitive way."

The O'Hara-based Center for Organ Recovery and Education had 207 donors last year, up from 200 in 2014. It transplanted 598 organs from those donors, a record for the organization. Spokeswoman Misty Enos said the gains were possible partly because CORE transports some donors to its own surgical suite, where it can slow the recovery process and maximize organ recovery.

Demographic factors such as high minority populations have been cited for lackluster donation rates in some areas. …

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