SAN ANTONIO, Texas
— In the second year of the COVID-19 pandemic where medical professionals worked intensely to help their community, a record-breaking 260 individuals saved lives via organ donation as their final act of service, announced Texas Organ Sharing Alliance (TOSA).
As a result of these gifts, TOSA, the organ procurement organization that provides organ donation and recovery services for Central and South Texans, helped provide 806 transplants for patients in need, a 36 percent increase from 2020.
“Every year we are so moved by the grace of donor families and their willingness to save lives,” said TOSA President & CEO Joseph Nespral. ���Through their generosity, more people than ever have received a second chance at life. These gifts inspire the work we do and motivate us to ensure we remain good stewards of gifts given through the power of organ donation.”
TOSA's donor service area, which extends from Waco to Brownsville, had a record 59 percent of donors make the decision to save lives by being registered donors with Donate Life Texas (DLT), the state's official registry. This is the fifth consecutive year the percentage of registered donors has increased. DLT also reported adding more than 770,000 people to the registry in 2021.
“The growth of the Donate Life Texas registry proves that Texans want to save lives,” Nespral said. “Our organization is looking forward to having more of these important conversations and helping people sign up to save lives because the critical need for donors is still there. Today more than 100,000 children and adults in this country are waiting for a life-changing transplant.”
These record-breaking results are part of a national trend. For the first time ever, the United States surpassed 40,000 transplants in a single year, according to the United Network for Organ Sharing (UNOS), the agency that oversees the national waiting list.
In 2021, TOSA also unveiled its vision statement of “An organ for every person on the waiting list.” The statement was the guiding principle that led TOSA to implement major improvements to help community members participate in organ donation. Those improvements included:
· Increasing outreach to the Hispanic community, which led to a record-breaking year in the Rio Grande Valley with 35 donors; in total, 52 percent of TOSA's donors this year were Hispanic
· Applying new technologies in the Center for Life facility to help transplant centers; in 2021 the CFL cared for 96 donors, a 25 percent increase from 2020
· Adopting new clinical practices to increase the number of lives each donor could save
For the family of Omar Sanchez of Harlingen, his final act as a registered organ donor only highlighted his life as a person who helped others.
“He lived as a hero and died as a hero,” said his wife Juanita Sanchez. “The team educated me and helped us all the way. I feel really good about it, and I feel so proud of him, too”
Likewise, the family of David Skarda of San Antonio is proud of his legacy as a donor that continues in the lives he saved.
“It was very difficult to lose my brother but knowing that he is living on through his organ and tissue donation makes me happy,” said his sister Melissa “Lisa” Jimenez. “Those people can now laugh, smile and spend time with their families because my brother gave them that opportunity. I am so proud of him.”Nationwide, 100,000 people are awaiting a life-saving organ transplant, including more than 10,000 Texans. A single person has the power to save eight lives as an organ donor and improve the lives of 75 others through tissue donation. Sign up today at www.DonateLifeTexas.org.Read TOSA's 2021 Annual Report here.