Most Lives Saved Here in a Single Year!
Number of Organ Transplants & Deceased Donors in San Diego Sets Record in 2016
Lifesharing Increase Highest in 44-year History; Team Leads U.S. in Several Areas
San Diego, CA – Jan. 23, 2017 – Organ donors in San Diego and Imperial Counties last year saved 363 lives, which set a new record for Lifesharing, the non-profit, federally-designated organ and tissue recovery organization serving this region. The record – a nearly 11% increase from the previous year – meant an additional 35 people received a precious second chance of life.
“In 2016, Lifesharing broke all previous records for the number of organ donors and organs transplanted,” reports long-time Lifesharing Executive Director Lisa M. Stocks, RN, MSN, FNP. “This record-breaking year reflects 10 more donors and 20 more lives saved through the miracle of organ transplant than in 2010, our previous record year. The Lifesharing Team also recovered tissue from 471 donors in 2016, which is 58 more donors than the previous year and has the potential to help heal up to 24,000 people.”
As a result of increased donation, deaths on the waiting list here dropped to 67 people from 81 in 2015. Since its founding 44 years ago to recover kidneys for transplant and skin for the regional burn center at the UC San Diego Health, Lifesharing has saved more than 7,091 lives through organ donation and helped the healing of thousand of others with the gift of tissue.
Out of 58 organ recovery organizations nationally, Lifesharing continues to be #1 in the U.S. for organs transplanted/standard criteria donor, #2 for organs placed for research, and #3 for Conversion Rate (the percentage of eligible donors who actually become donors). “These are amazing results and reflect a team that works together at all levels and the great relationship that we have with our local transplant teams,” Stocks added. Recently Stocks was named to serve on the national UNOS (United Network for Organ Sharing) board of directors.
This week, preliminary data released by UNOS announced a record of 33,606 transplants nationwide – the fourth consecutive year of increases. Nearly 82% were from deceased donors. But despite the increase and fact nearly 14 million Californians have registered to be donors, the need continues great. Currently 2,201 people are on the U.S. organ waiting list at San Diego’s four transplant centers. Nearly 90 percent need a kidney transplant to survive. The majority waiting here are Hispanic (38%) followed by White (32%), Asians (17%) and Blacks (11%). Twenty-five people on the waiting list in San Diego are children.
“People ask why there are more donors,” Stocks said. “There are many reasons including increased awareness, family support and medical advances that allow donors to save more people. While we’re seeing some increase in deaths from drug use and suicide, the majority of our donors die from strokes or trauma. We’re also seeing an increase in people who once might have been ineligible to be a donor. Older donors, for instance, can save lives as can people who have diabetes or had cancer. Too often people rule themselves out as donors and shouldn’t. Chances are good you can still make a life-transforming difference for others as a donor.
Stocks acknowledges she is honored to work with families willing to help others in the midst of their own tragedy and personal loss. “We consider donors to be heroes and always remember the gift given. It is a blessing for all of us to work with our volunteers like Michael Adams of Oceanside, who is 14-years post double lung transplant. His young donor was killed in San Bernadino walking to church choir practice. Michael still stays in touch with his donor’s mom and is an active participant in our high school education program.
“Just last week, Lifesharing Volunteer Cathleen Yang of Mira Mesa and her sister stopped by our office to thank our staff. Both are heart recipients. Cathleen learned she would need a new heart when she was three months pregnant. She made it through delivery and was transplanted a short time later. That was 11 years ago! Her family held a surprise birthday party this weekend to celebrate her 50th birthday. Cathleen considers herself a ‘miracle mom.’ So do we thanks to her donor.”
For more information, visit www.lifesharing.org. If you’d like to sign up to be a donor, check ‘Yes’ at the DMV or visit www.donateLIFEcalifornia.org. If you want to help others after you’re gone, signing up in advance to be a donor is one of the kindest things you can do for your family. It allows them to honor your wish not wonder what you would have wanted. Last year 52% of Lifesharing donors had registered.