As we slowly move into 2018, the previous year – with all its ups and downs – remains fresh in our memories, especially as the world continues to take stock of what was undoubtedly a whirlwind 12 months.
Among record-setting wildfires, floods, political unrest, international disputes, countless #metoo stories of disturbing predatory behavior by men in power, there have been shining beacons of generosity, heroic acts, community building, and breakthrough medical advances.
Among the most uplifting trends of 2017 was the growing number of organ donations and transplants performed in the U.S. According to the United Network for Organ Sharing (UNOS), 34,768 organ transplants were performed last year, marking the fifth consecutive year of record-setting transplants.
In fact, 3.4% more transplants were performed last year than in 2016, and record numbers were set in all four of the main transplant categories – heart, liver, lung and kidney – thanks to immense generosity of donors and their families.
Another reason for the growing number of transplants is the continually growing understanding of organ donations and viability. This has led to a broadening of the potential donor base by including transplants from donors over the age of 50, donors with certain blood-born diseases, donors who have succumbed to drug overdoses, and donors in circulatory death, not just brain death.
While the number of organ donors has climbed significantly in the past years – 27% compared to 2007 – over 110,000 Americans are still waiting for transplants.
For many of them, transplants are the only remaining avenue for treatment, and are forced to wait months and years for a matching organ that may never become available.
But advances in transplant science, as well as growing awareness, are slowly, but surely, bringing new life to countless people with no hope left. For those lucky enough to have gone through the life-saving procedure, the gift and hope brought by a desperately needed new organ is the gift of life itself.