As we enter a new year, LifeCenter Northwest would like to extend our deepest gratitude to the organ and tissue donors and their families who made 2019 a year of second chances for thousands of others. Thanks to the generosity and altruism of these donors and families, we were able to help save and heal more lives through donation and transplantation than ever before. Over the past ten years, organ and tissue donation in our service area has increased dramatically, and we are fully committed to continuing this steady growth in the years ahead.
Nine hundred twenty-four organs were transplanted last year from 303 organ donors, compared to 878 organs from 271 donors in 2018. In addition, we recovered tissue from 586 donors in Montana, North Idaho, and Washington providing an estimated 73,125 tissue allografts to those in need. Tissues recovered included bones and connective tissue, skin, peripheral nerves, and heart valves. These donors and their families are true heroes, and our care for these families begins at the time of donation and continues for 18-months of grief and bereavement support by LifeCenter’s Donor Family Aftercare team.
Janet Anderson, whose son Gregg Sutton was an organ and tissue donor recently shared her experience as a donor mom. “My heart overflows with gratitude for LifeCenter Northwest. From preparation of the organ donation to the follow-up care, I have known that my son was honored as a hero. It has helped tremendously in the healing process to focus on the other lives he saved, to know he helped so many.”
Gregg was an avid lover of music from an early age, playing guitar and drums, and enjoyed spending time outdoors, particularly fishing and hiking. Sadly, Gregg’s life ended too soon when he was involved in a motorcycle accident. Though he was transported to Providence Sacred Heart in Spokane, he later died from his injuries. A registered donor, he was able to save the lives of four people through his gift of both kidneys, his liver and his heart. He also aided in the healing of countless others through his gift of tissue. LifeCenter worked alongside Gregg’s family and were able to help carry out Gregg’s wishes to help others through the gift of life. LifeCenter honors Gregg and all our donors as heroes.
“First and foremost, we are grateful to the donors and their families for their generosity and courage, and for giving the gift of life to others,” says Kevin O’Connor, President & CEO of LifeCenter Northwest. “This continuous increase in the number of lives saved over the past decade is the direct result of the exceptional work of our talented and dedicated staff, working hand in glove with the larger medical community, especially the outstanding transplant programs in Seattle and Spokane, and the donor hospitals throughout our large service area. We all share the same clear goal of helping others in need.”
LifeCenter Northwest serves communities throughout Alaska, Montana, North Idaho, and Washington. Working collaboratively with more than 200 hospitals in the region, LifeCenter covers the largest geographic area of all the 58 federally designated organ procurement organizations in the nation.
As of December 2019, there were nearly 113,000 patients across the nation listed on the UNOS organ transplant waiting list, with more than 2,300 of these patients residing in our region.
“The opportunity to make such a profound difference in the lives of so many people motivates us every day, but there is still much work to be done,” says O’Connor. “Our resolve to continue to help more and more people is stronger than ever. We will never stop working on improving our services so that we can help save more lives and serve more families.”