By Darla Shelden
City Sentinel Reporter
For the second year in a row, LifeShare Transplant Donor Services of Oklahoma, had a record breaking year saving 438 lives in 2015. LifeShare reached new all-time high records for the number of organ donors recovered, the number of organs transplanted, and the number of tissue donors recovered in a one-year period.
LifeShare is a nonprofit, federally designated organ procurement organization (OPO) in the state of Oklahoma and is responsible for organ and tissue donation statewide.
In 2015, LifeShare recovered organs from 174 donors, passing the organization’s all-time high record of 141 donors set in 2014. Prior to 2014, the record was from 2007 with 109 donors. These donations resulted in 479 organs recovered and transplanted for 2015, a total which also passes last year’s organizational record of 445 organs.
Prior to 2014, the high record for organs recovered in a one year period was 323 organs in 2012.
LifeShare also achieved new records in the area of tissue procurement. Last year, the organization recovered 643 tissue donors surpassing the 2014 record of 498 tissue donors. In the area of tissue recovery, LifeShare completed 109 eye donor recoveries for the year, which is new territory for the organization.
“I am incredibly proud of the work LifeShare has done this year to help save lives,” explained Jeffrey Orlowski, President and Chief Executive Officer of LifeShare. “We have once again set organizational records across the board, which is a result of the focus and commitment from the entire LifeShare team including staff, leadership and volunteers and the efforts of the Oklahoma medical community.
“Most importantly, we have had incredible support and generosity from the citizens of Oklahoma, without which our lifesaving work would not be possible,” explains Orlowski. “We encourage Oklahomans to continue registering to be organ, eye and tissue donors so more lives can be saved.”
This record breaking year there were 438 lives saved through organ and tissue donation. There are still approximately 800 Oklahomans on the waiting list for a lifesaving transplant.
Organ transplants in the United States reached a milestone in 2015, exceeding 30,000 for the first time according to the Organ Procurement and Transplantation Network (OPTN).
Details from the OPTN data for 2015 show that 81 percent of transplanted organs came from deceased donors. The share of donors and recipients who were African American or Hispanic continued to increase, which is important because they are over-represented on transplant waiting lists.
Nearly 22 percent of recipients were African American and 15.5 percent were Hispanic.
Kidneys accounted for nearly 58 percent of transplants, followed by livers (23 percent), hearts (9 percent) and lungs (7 percent).
LifeShare works closely with five transplant centers and 145 healthcare organizations in the state of Oklahoma to facilitate donation. Additionally, the organization strives to raise awareness for organ, eye and tissue donation and transplantation through public education.
In an effort to raise awareness about organ, eye and tissue donation, LifeShare has launched a statewide campaign called #LittleRedHeart. The little red heart on a person’s driver’s license signifies their decision to register as a donor.
Look for people, such as University of Oklahoma Coach Bob Stoops and Oklahoma State University President Burns Hargis, to show you their little red heart. By making the decision to register as a donor, you could potentially save the lives of up to eight people.
“We could save thousands of more lives each year if more Americans would just take a little time to register as donor, talk to their families about their wishes,” and encourage others to do the same, said David Fleming, CEO of Donate Life America.
For more information about LifeShare, visit www.LifeShareOK.org.