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Colorado & Wyoming Add Nearly 1 Million Registered Organ, Eye & Tissue Donors in 2014

Local organ procurement organization announces increase in registered organ, eye and tissue donors and record-breaking tissue donation year, translating to more lives saved and healed

Donor Alliance, the federally designated, non-profit organ procurement organization and American Association of Tissue Banks accredited tissue bank serving Colorado and Wyoming announced that more than 950,000 names were added to the state donor registries in 2014. The donor designation rate, or percentage of individuals joining the state donor registry, was at an all-time high this past year in Colorado with 67.7% of the state’s licensed drivers and ID card holders on the registry and 59.58% in Wyoming. The two states maintained some of the highest donor designation rates in the country.

“We are incredibly proud of the increasing donor designation rates, and thankful that so many Colorado and Wyoming residents have made the selfless choice to register as organ, eye and tissue donors,” said Sue Dunn, president and CEO of Donor Alliance. “We have had strong donor designation for a number of years, which results directly in more lives saved and healed thanks to the generosity of Colorado and Wyoming donors and their families.”

2014 was a landmark year for tissue donation and transplantation, including bone, skin, heart valve and joint donations, with the number of donors increasing 35% from 2013’s record year. Working with 1,590 generous tissue donors, enough tissue was recovered to heal or save the lives of an estimated 159,000 people. As medical technology advances and eligibility criteria change it has become possible to utilize more types of tissue, which has allowed more people to give the gift of life through tissue donation. Additionally, Colorado and Wyoming’s increasing number of registered donors has translated into more tissue available for transplant.

Tendon allograft recipient Kate Wickham from Colorado is excited by the increase in tissue donation in her home state, especially since she knows how life changing receiving a tissue transplant can be. “When I tore my ACL, I thought I would never be able to enjoy the Colorado outdoors the same way again,” said Wickham. “The things I loved, like skiing, hiking and running, were no longer possible. But then the generous gift I received changed everything.” Wickham, who says she thinks of her donor family often, aims to honor her donor every day by staying as healthy as she can and enjoying the activities made possible by her transplant.

In addition to the increase in tissue donors, Donor Alliance, which educates about organ and tissue donation and manages the recovery of tissue and organs, facilitated organ recoveries from 109 donors in 2014 helping save 337 lives across the country.

“The continued work of Donor Alliance to facilitate organ and tissue donation in our communities is extremely important,” said Colorado resident Nicolle Llewellyn, whose daughter Taylor became an organ and tissue donor after her death last year. Llewellyn says she was humbled to see the increase in registered donors. “I know firsthand how difficult it can be to lose someone you love, but it has been healing for me to know that after Taylor’s death she has gone on to help others in need. It is heartening to know that so many other Colorado and Wyoming residents are making the same brave, generous choice.”

According to the Rocky Mountain Lions Eye Bank, there were 2,070 eye donors from Colorado and Wyoming in 2014, which provided for 2,167 sight-restorative transplants. While the number of eye tissue donors showed only a slight increase over 2013, the number of cornea transplants performed increased by nearly 10 percent. This increase is attributed to new surgical techniques that allow use of donated corneas that would not have been suitable a few years ago. The eye bank was instrumental in developing the new preparation technique.

Despite the generosity of donor family members and the efforts of Donor Alliance staff and partner organizations, just over 2,500 people in the area continue to wait for a lifesaving transplant. For more information about donation, or to register as an organ, eye and tissue donor, please visit DonateLifeColorado.org or DonateLifeWyoming.org.

ORGAN DATA 2011 2012 2013 2014
Local Organ Donors 134 126 148 109
Kidney Transplants 223 203 241 176
Liver Transplants 100 84 109 72
Heart Transplants 54 47 43 37
Lung Transplants 44 34 45 42
Pancreas Transplants 25 21 24 9
Small Intestine Transplant 0 1 1 1
Total Local Organs Transplanted (Lives Saved) 446 390 463 337
TISSUE DATA 2011 2012 2013 2014
Local Tissue Donors 966 1017 1,177 1,590
Potential Lives Healed through tissue donation 96,600 101,700 117,700 159,000
Bone Donors 565 555 660 830
Skin Donors 882 934 1076 1,386
Heart Valve Donors 101 105 111 114
Joint Restoration Donors 93 83 106 112
Organ recoveries at Recovery Ctr. 8 36 43
Tissue recoveries at Recovery Ctr. 919 1077 1,515
Colorado DDR% 67.06% 66.53% 67.27% 67.70%
Wyoming DDR% 59.11% 59.11% 59.35% 59.58%
Coloradoans added to the registry 830,869 918,762 874,856 866,550
Wyomingites added to the registry 87,083 92,806 91,872 85,083

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