OPTN 2021 Data Shows AOPO Members Help Save Record Number of Lives

What a way to start the new year! The Organ Procurement Transplant Network (OPTN) announced record results this week for organ donation and transplantation outcomes in 2021. For the first time, more than 40,000 total organ transplants were performed in the U.S. with more than 34,800 life-saving organ transplants from deceased donors. Organ procurement organizations (OPOs) successfully recovered over 38,000 organs for transplant, a 4% increase from the year prior. For all of us in the donation and transplant community, these results show that our efforts and collaboration toward saving more lives is working.

OPOs Set Record for Number of Donors

Boosts in organ donation and transplantation occurred in many areas throughout the nation. Of 57 OPOs, 49 increased the number of deceased donors recovered in 2021 over 2020. Forty-five OPOs set all-time records for deceased donors in a single year. With OPOs and our entire community working diligently to improve performance, these early results add credence to our commitment to our 50K Annual Organ Transplants in 2026 Campaign.

Number of 2021 Organ Transplants Breaks Records

Specifically, in 2021, 41,354 organ transplants were performed in the United States, an increase of 5.9 percent over 2020 and the first time the annual total exceeded 40,000. The three most commonly transplanted organs all set annual volume records, with 24,669 kidney transplants, 9,236 liver transplants and 3,817 heart transplants. Liver transplant totals have set annual records for the past nine years, and heart transplants have set a new record each of the past 10 years.

Increase in Deceased Organ Donors

A total of 13,861 people became deceased organ donors nationwide in 2021, representing the 11th consecutive record year for deceased donation and an increase of almost 10 percent over 2020. Donation after circulatory death (DCD) donors, as opposed to brain death donors, continued a substantial increase. The 4,187 DCD donors increased by nearly 30 percent over the total in 2020.

2021 Saving Lives through

Collaboration Will Continue to Lead the Way to Success

What we know is that collaboration is empowering our community to move the needle forward in our effort to achieve 50,000 annual organ transplants in 2026. AOPO will continue to work with its members to share new and best practices, technology, and research that leads to more lives saved.

*Based on OPTN data as of January 10, 2022.

Steve Miller, MBA, CAE

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