LOUISVILLE, Ky. — Despite the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, Kentucky had a record-breaking year for organ donations.
According to data from Kentucky Organ Donor Affiliates (KODA), more than 1,000 organ donors helped save and change lives through the organization in 2021, marking a 75% increase in local donors since 2017 and a fourth consecutive year of growth.
The nonprofit said it supported 189 organ donors and 484 tissue donors last year, resulting in more than 500 lives saved and another 600 receiving the gift of sight.
“Despite the global pandemic, generosity still exists. The proof of that is the willingness of donor families that have said ‘yes’ to donation, during some of their worst moments,” said Julie Bergin, KODA President and CEO.
KODA Marketing and Communications Director Crysta McGee said COVID-19 wasn't a huge factor in the number of donors last year, but complications from the virus have increased the number of people needing transplants, especially lungs.
"It's always been more liver, kidney, heart, than lung, especially here in the state, but over the last couple years... it's been major," McGee said.
More than 94,000 Kentuckians added their names to the donor registry last year, according to the Kentucky Circuit Court Clerks' Trust for Life - but the need is still great.
KODA said the number of people waiting for a transplant far exceeds the available organs, tissues, and corneas, which means about 20 people die each day without receiving a lifesaving transplant.