According to data from the United Network for Organ Sharing, nearly 11,900 people who died in 2019 donated one or more organs, making it the ninth consecutive record-breaking year for deceased donation in the United States.
The 11,870 deceased donor total represents an increase of 10.7% compared with 2018 data, according to UNOS. “Deceased donation has increased by 38% since 2014,” Organ Procurement and Transplant Network Board of Directors President Maryl Johnson, MD, said in a press release. “This staggering increase is a tribute to the dedication of donors and their families nationwide who make the courageous decision at a time of great personal loss to give the gift of life to people who are awaiting organ transplantation.”
UNOS reports there are nearly 113,000 people on the national waitlist who are still awaiting an organ transplant.
Of the 58 organ procurement organizations (OPOs) that coordinate deceased organ donation, 48 experienced an increase in donations from 2018 to 2019. Forty-one OPOs established new all-time annual records for donation, according to UNOS.
Organ transplants from living donors also established a new record in 2019, UNOS reported. The 7,397 total living donor transplants that took place in 2019 exceeded the previous record amount of 6,992 set in 2004.
“In total, health care teams across the country performed 39,718 transplants with organs from both deceased and living donors. This marks an 8.7% increase compared with 2018 and a seventh consecutive annual record,” UNOS said.
The organization also released data on those who donated in 2019, including:
- 36% were aged 50 years old or older;
- nearly 20% died of cardiovascular failure, accounting for the greatest increase as a mechanism of death compared to 2018; and
- 27% were identified under Public Health Service guidelines as having behavioral risk factors for recent bloodborne infection.
“A key to continuing to improve the transplant system is to develop new data tools, technology innovations and process enhancements so donation and transplant professionals can make efficient decisions,” UNOS CEO Brian Shepard, said in the release. “We are partnering with experts inside and outside the transplant community to use new tools and ideas to save more lives.”
Disclosures: Johnson and Shepard report no relevant financial disclosures.