The number of deceased organ donors in the United States exceeded 10,000 for the first time in 2017, according to data from the United Network for Organ Sharing.
According to UNOS, which serves as the national Organ Procurement and Transplantation Network under federal contract, organs were recovered from 10,281 donors in 2017, an increase of 3.1 percent from 2016 and an increase of 27 percent since 2007.
The organization said its preliminary data shows that there were 34,768 organ transplants performed in 2017 using organs from both deceased and living donors.
About 82 percent (28,587) of the transplants performed in 2017 used organs from deceased donors, while 18 percent (6,181) were done with organs from living donors.
UNOS said there was a 3.4 percent increase in transplants from 2016, which makes 2017 the fifth consecutive record-setting year for organ transplants in the United States. The organization also said there were record numbers of kidneys, livers, hearts, and lungs donated, the four most common types of organ transplants.
“We are grateful that more lives are being saved, year after year, thanks to the boundless generosity of organ donors,” Dr. Yolanda Becker, president of the OPTN/UNOS Board of Directors, said in a statement. “We remain committed to increasing the number of transplants still further to help the many thousands of people in need of a transplant to sustain them and vastly improve their quality of life.”
NBC News profiled one of 2017’s deceased organ donors: 18-year-old Arizona honor student Victoria Arias.
According to NBC News, Victoria enjoyed playing violin and volleyball. She was a devout Catholic who was saving money for a pilgrimage to Rome and hoped to see the pope while she was there.
Victoria was preparing to attend St. Mary’s University of Minnesota and dreamed of becoming a doctor so she could save lives.
“She wanted to be a trauma surgeon,” Victoria’s mother, Lorena Arias, told NBC. “She had big dreams. She was going to do it.”
Last July, Lorena found her daughter unconscious in a backyard pool, and she never recovered.
But Victoria, an organ donor, did save lives: her kidneys, liver, lungs and heart went to four people who needed organ transplants.
“She was just an amazing child and an amazing person. Now she is even more amazing,” Arias said of her daughter, adding that she hopes to meet the four recipients some day.
(H/T NBC News)