After successful 2018, Gift of Life looks to improve in 2019

Jim Melwert
February 04, 2019 - 4:00 am
Organ Donation.

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PHILADELPHIA (KYW Newsradio) — Gift of Life organ donor program is celebrating a successful 2018 while looking at ways to improve in 2019. 

For the 11th straight year, the Philadelphia region and the tri-state area served by Gift of Life led the nation in organs donated and the number of organs transplanted. 

President and CEO Howard Nathan gives credit to the attitude of people in the region, but also to hospitals for understanding what it means to a family who is losing a loved one.

“I think more and more people are seeing this as a part of routine life and death, people see this as a way of making sense out of a tragedy,” Nathan said. 

READ: Wolf to sign update of Pa. organ donation law

The program was able to reduce the number of people on a waiting list for an organ transplant by about 250, as compared to one year ago.

“But we still have over 5,000 people waiting. Nationwide about 113,000 people are waiting for a transplant," he explained. 

Nathan says they’ve seen a spike in living donors, including one woman who he says gave a kidney anonymously.

“She saw our sign and came to our office and said 'who should I call to donate a kidney?' We gave her a list of the transplant centers. She went and contacted one of them and donated a kidney," he said. 

He says that started a chain: her recipient had someone donate, that recipient had someone donate, and four lives were saved.

Nathan adds they saw a dip in organs from overdose deaths, and while overdoses do not affect the viability for organ donation, a decrease of overdose deaths is obviously good news, and he hopes this is the start of a downward trend.