Donation Essentials Blog

The Waitlist Can’t Wait: Record Number of Heroic Organ Donors and Lives Saved in 2020 – Colorado & Wyoming


Despite the COVID-19 pandemic, Donor Alliance recorded 2020 as the most successful year for lives saved through organ donation and transplantation that the region has ever seen. In 2020, a record number of heroic organ donors saved 622 lives through organ donation and transplantation and thousands more lives were saved and healed through tissue donation in Colorado and Wyoming.

The waitlist can’t wait, even amidst a pandemic. As challenging as 2020 has been, there are many things to be proud of when it comes to donation and transplantation. Jennifer Prinz, Donor Alliance President and CEO.

2020 Record Organ Donors & Lives Saved in Colorado & Wyoming

Through the generous gifts from organ donors and their families, Donor Alliance facilitated a record number of organ donations throughout Colorado and Wyoming in 2020.


This year there was a 13% increase in heroic organ donors and a 4% increase in organs transplanted, or lives saved, when compared to the record high from 2019.2020-organ-donor-growth

  • Organ Donors – a record 215 heroic organ donors
  • Organs Transplanted – donations saved 622 lives

Annual Snapshot:

ORGAN Donation 2017 2018 2019 2020
Local Organ Donors 144 160 191 215
Kidney Transplants 246 268 325 351
Liver Transplants 88 98 119 141
Heart Transplants 43 59 63 68
Lung Transplants 24 52 72 54
Pancreas Transplants 6 11 15 7
Small Intestine Transplant 0 1 2 1
Total Local Organs Transplanted 407 489 596 622

In addition to facilitating local deceased donation, Donor Alliance helped facilitate 140 transplants from donors outside of our region, as well as assisting in 39 of the region’s 118 transplants from living donors.

Donor Alliance also coordinated the passing of 710 letters between donor families and transplant recipients and provided 30,470 memory cards to 241 donor families to help honor and recognize the lives of their loved ones.

2020 Another Strong Year Tissue Donation & Transplantation in Colorado & Wyoming

2020-tissue-stats-colorado-wyomingDespite delays in a variety of surgical procedures in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, 2020 was still a strong year for tissue donation and transplantation. There were 1,899 heroic tissue donors including 1,664 skin donors and 127 heart valve donors.

Through procedures like skin grafting and reconstructive surgeries, these lifesaving and healing donations will help thousands of people regain mobility and lead active lives after disease or trauma.

  • Tissue Donorsan amazing 1,899 heroic tissue donors
  • Tissues Transplantedtens of thousands

Annual Snapshot:

TISSUE Donation 2017 2018 2019 2020
Local Tissue Donors 1,752 1,684 2,118 1,899
Bone Donors 832 902 1,109 904
Skin Donors 1,503 1,512 1,950 1,664
Heart Valve Donors 140 95 127 127
Joint Restoration Donors 97 90 121 83

Waitlist Can’t Wait: Saving Lives through the COVID-19 Pandemic, Record Number Organ Donors & Lives Saved

Throughout the COVID-19 crisis, our mission has remained at the forefront of every decision we’ve made, allowing our work to maximize every gift of life and save as many lives as possible through donation and transplantation to continue. Jennifer Prinz

2020-waitlist-cant-wait-donor-allianceSince the onset of the pandemic, Donor Alliance has actively worked to plan for and mitigate the impacts of COVID-19 on the organization’s mission to save lives.

  • Surge Planning
    • In collaboration with local hospitals and medical partners, Donor Alliance developed a Surge Plan to ensure the gift of life was able to safely continue despite the pandemic-induced strain on medical resources, staff and facilities. The plan included securing tools and equipment, developing alternative protocols based on hospital capacity, expedited medical testing and increasing utilization of Donor Alliance’s stand-alone recovery center – all of which minimized the impact on hospitals and ensured the gift of life continued. Accelerated COVID-19 testing was also established for all potential organ donors, reducing delays and allowing Donor Alliance staff to safely sustain the donation and transplantation process.
  • Maximize Remote Work
    • To keep Donor Alliance and hospital staff safe while also making sure our lifesaving work continued, remote work options were maximized. For example, Donor Alliance limited the number of staff accessing local hospitals by having virtual conversations with donor families.
  • Educating the Public Virtually
    • Even though in-person events were limited in 2020, virtual events and digital initiatives were implemented to continue to educate and inspire the public to sign up to be organ, eye and tissue donors.

The generosity of Colorado and Wyoming residents combined with the determination and resiliency of our staff and volunteers to continue our mission helped to save and heal more lives in our region than ever before. Jennifer Prinz

Colorado & Wyoming amongst the Top in the Nation in Support for Donation

2020-colorado-wyoming-ddrColorado and Wyoming continue to maintain some of the highest donor designation rates, or percentage of individuals joining the state donor registries, in the country.

Colorado’s DDR is 68% and Wyoming’s is 62% – both states far surpass the national average of 49%, according to Donate Life America.

  • Nearly one million residents signed up to become donors in 2020
  • More than 870,000 Coloradans and nearly 82,000 Wyomingites added their names to the organ, eye and tissue donor registries.
  • The donor designation rate is at 68% in Colorado
  • The donor designation rate is at 62% in Wyoming

How You Can Help

Despite the year’s incredible achievements even amidst a pandemic for donation and transplantation across the region, nearly 2,000 people in the area continue to wait for a lifesaving transplant. With these patients in mind, Donor Alliance continues to tirelessly educate the public on the need for donation and collaborate closely with 115 acute care hospitals, four transplant centers, division of motor vehicles and other partners throughout the two-state area.

For more information about donation, or to sign up as an organ, eye and tissue donor, please visit or

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