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Organ donations rising despite pandemic

The pattern continues an eight-year trend with year-after-year increases in deceased organ donations.

DENVER — Despite the challenges COVID-19 has posed to the medical community, organ donation has increased from 2019 to 2021.

The pattern continues an eight-year trend with year-after-year increases in deceased organ donations, which specifically applies to organs that are donated after death to a living recipient.

In 2020, patients who died from COVID could not donate organs. Those who had COVID and recovered were eligible to donate. Despite those challenges, organ donation continued to rise.

Donor Alliance, the donor procurement organization serving Colorado and Wyoming, has experienced the increase themselves.

They carried out the following number of transplants:

  • 2018 – 160 organs
  • 2019 – 191 organs
  • 2020 – 215 organs

Donor Alliance has currently performed 164 transplants year to date in 2021 and will likely overtake the previous number from 2020.

“If there is one bright spot in medicine right now, it is probably organ donation and transplantation,” said Anne Paschke, spokeswoman for the United Network for Organ Sharing also known as UNOS. “This is a continuing trend. In the United States, we have seen more organ donors for eight years in a row.”

UNOS attributes the trend to more people being open to getting on the donor registry with Donor Alliance seeing a 13% increase in donors and a 4% increase in transplants.

Data for living organ donations show those numbers are slightly down, but local hospitals say donations are relatively steady.    

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