Most Successful Year Ever for Organ and Tissue Donation in Colorado and Wyoming in 2019

January 15, 2020

Generous donor registry rates, strong local partnerships and process improvements following decade-long performance excellence journey credited for record-breaking year in region

Donor Alliance, the federally designated non-profit organization that facilitates organ and tissue donation in Colorado and most of Wyoming, recorded the most successful year the region has ever seen in 2019, helping save the lives of 596 people through organ donation and save and heal thousands more through tissue donation.


The generosity of the donors and their families in Colorado and Wyoming helped to shatter several records, including:

  • Record 191 organ donors saving the lives of 596 people through organ donation and transplantation.
  • Record 2,118 tissue donors providing bone and skin grafts to save and heal the lives of tens of thousands of recipients in need.

Organ Donation in CO and WY

In 2019, Donor Alliance facilitated more organ transplants than ever by 19%, exceeding the previous high set in 2018, and a 29% increase since 2013. In addition, the organization reported a 21% increase in tissue donors over the previous record with 2,118 tissue donors, including 1,950 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.

organ-donation-CO-WY“Each day, our staff works tirelessly to save the 2,000 lives in our region waiting for a lifesaving transplant while also supporting the families of donors that lean on us to honor their loved one’s heroic decision to become a donor,” said Sue Dunn, Donor Alliance president and CEO. “Achieving our simple, yet powerful mission is made possible by the incredible generosity of the Colorado and Wyoming residents that have signed up to join the organ and tissue donor registry. This support, combined with our strong hospital partnerships and mission-driven culture, helped to save and heal more lives in our region than ever before.”

More than one million residents signed up to become donors in 2019, with 1,003,817 in Colorado and 88,922 names in Wyoming being added to the organ, eye and tissue donor registries. The two states continue to maintain some of the highest donor designation rates, or percentage of individuals joining the state donor registries, in the country. Colorado reached number one in the nation in 2018 with a 69% DDR and Wyoming set another record this year at 63%, the highest rate ever for the state. Both states far surpass the national average of 49%, according to Donate Life America.

In addition to the incredible local support for donation, the progress made this year is also a result of a number of process improvements made through the organization’s decade-long performance excellence journey, which culminated with a Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award in 2018. These advancements included better processes to identify and refer potential organ donors after cardiac death and streamlined communications with hospital partners to improve the timely notification of potential organ and tissue donors. As medical advances help eligibility criteria expand, medical professionals are also able to maximize organ and tissue donation more than ever before, allowing more people to give the gift of life.

Despite the year’s incredible achievements 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

Organ and Tissue Donation by the Numbers

ORGAN Donation 2013 2014 2015 2016 2017 2018 2019
Local Organ Donors 148 109 134 139 144 160 191
Kidney Transplants 241 176 226 233 246 268 325
Liver Transplants 109 72 79 84 88 98 119
Heart Transplants 43 37 54 54 43 59 63
Lung Transplants 45 42 59 44 24 52 72
Pancreas Transplants 24 9 10 8 6 11 15
Small Intestine Transplant 1 1 0 1 0 1 2
Total Local Organs Transplanted 463 337 428 424 407 489 596
TISSUE Donation 2013 2014 2015 2016 2017 2018 2019
Local Tissue Donors 1,177 1,590 1,674 1,710 1,752 1,684 2,118
Bone Donors 660 830 911 822 832 902 1,109
Skin Donors 1,076 1,386 1,401 1,320 1,503 1,512 1,950
Heart Valve Donors 111 114 117 168 140 95 127
Joint Restoration Donors 106 112 119 89 97 90 121