LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WHAS11) -- Twenty lives are lost every single day. It's a startling statistic, but it's the reality for people waiting for an organ transplant. It's also a number Jewish Hospital is working diligently to drastically reduce. This month, it broke its annual record, transplanting more than 175 organs in just a year.
The numbers speak for themselves. 2017 meant major milestones for the Trager Transplant Center at Jewish Hospital As of this year, it's transplanted 3000 kidneys, 900 livers, and 5000 organs overall since it opened in 1964.
"We want to be able to provide more Christmases and more New Years to patients and their families,” Medical Director for the Lung Transplant Program Dr. Allan Ramirez said.
That gift of life is a present Garry Lewis wanted and needed more than anything.
"Well, they call it coalminer's lung. I worked 40 years underground coal mining,” Lewis said. "I was really bad. I was using about 30-50 liters of oxygen just to move."
The father and grandfather spent several months on the transplant list before getting the best news of all.
"It was crying moments when you get the word that you're going to get lungs. It's just a really, really good time,” Lewis said.
October 20, 2017, changed his life forever.
"It was just a wonderful feeling. I guess God provided the lungs for me, and the surgeons here did a great job on me,” Lewis said.
We're told joy and appreciation are common side effects for transplant patients.
"A lot of thanks, a lot of gratitude, a lot of happiness,” Ramirez said.
Life a few months after surgery is looking bright for Garry.
"I can do about anything. I'm walking good now and breathing good. I don't have to have any oxygen,” Lewis said. "I went to therapy a little early, and I walked almost a mile. I did ten minutes on the bicycle. I did ten minutes on the treadmill, ten minutes on the new step, and then we did our weights and stuff. So, I'm really doing great with it."
"It is a tremendous feeling to be able to tell patients that they no longer need to wear their oxygen anymore, that they can easily get from the chair and go to the kitchen and back without any difficulties. That is tremendously fulfilling,” Ramirez said.
Success stories like Garry's are happening more and more thanks to the talented team at Trager Transplant Center, but they can't do it without you.
"The reality is we have a far more number of patients on the waiting list than there are donors. So, we need everyone to sign their driver's license and become an organ donor. We are really providing a gift of life to a lot of these patients, and we can't do it without organ donation,” Ramirez said.
"If it wasn't for a donor, I wouldn't be here. It's pretty simple. Everybody ought to be a donor,” Lewis said.
Just one donor can save up to seven people with different organs and even more with tissue donation.
To become an organ donor, click here.