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Wednesday, March 4, 2009


Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Nationwide efforts to increase organ donations have paid dividends, as a record 26,984 Americans received organ transplants during 2004. "I am heartened that the promise of organ donation continues to save more and more lives every year," said Health and Human Services Secretary Mike Leavitt in a press release.

Since 1991, HHS has been making a concentrated effort to increase consent rates for organ donations.

"For each life saved, hope, for others in need, grows; we must continue to grow and share that hope across the nation," said Leavitt.

Deceased donors can give multiple organs that will improve or save the lives of several people. In 2004, there were more than 20,000 transplant operations utilizing organs from more than 7,000 deceased donors, an increase of close to 11 percent over the 2003 total. That increase was the largest in the last 10 years and the second highest annual increase since national records began to be collected in 1987. Organ transplants from deceased donors rose by 1,368 (18,650 to 20,018) from 2003 to 2004, a 7.3 percent increase.

In addition, transplant operations using an organ donated by a living person also hit a new high -- 6,966 -- in 2004. That number grew by 154 (6,812 to 6,966) from 2003 to 2004, a 2.3 percent increase. Organ donations from living persons are limited to a single organ, usually the kidney, or piece of a single organ. Human beings have two kidneys but can lead healthy lives with only one.

Citing the growing need for organ donation to save and improve lives, Tommy G. Thompson, within his first 100 days as HHS Secretary, announced his commitment to develop a new national effort to encourage organ donation. That commitment, also known as the Gift of Life Donation Initiative, led to 2004's record transplant totals through which the number of transplant candidates who died waiting for an organ fell below 6,000 for the first time in six years.

In 2003, HHS' Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) launched the "Organ Donation Breakthrough Collaborative," to bring together donation professionals and hospital leaders to identify and share best practices to maximize donation rates from potential organ donors who die in their facilities. While donation from deceased donors rose both in hospitals participating in the collaborative and in those not taking part, the increase was higher for those in the collaborative (16 percent compared to 2003) than for non-participating hospitals (9.4 percent).

According to preliminary data from the Organ Procurement and Transplantation Network (OPTN), the two most common transplant procedures in 2004 increased substantially over 2003 totals: kidney transplants rose more than 5 percent and liver transplants increased nearly 9 percent. The number of heart transplants decreased slightly in 2004; demand for heart transplants has slowed due to advances in other medical and surgical procedures to treat heart disease. OPTN maintains data on donors, transplants and the national patient waiting list under contract from HRSA.