Intermountain Health breaks organ transplant record again
SALT LAKE CITY — Intermountain Health announced Tuesday that it broke its own record for adult organ transplants during 2022, reaching 300 donations KSL.com reported.
The organization thanked its donors and caregivers in a statement Tuesday for a fourth record-breaking year for the transplant program. Organ transplants last year included 104 livers, 159 kidneys, 29 hearts and eight kidney/pancreas combinations.
“Intermountain has created the environment and provided us the necessary tools and medical team to be successful. … I couldn’t be prouder and more honored to be working side-by-side with these caregivers who are changing lives in our communities,” said Dr. Jean Botha, a surgeon and medical director over Intermountain Health’s abdominal transplant program.
Live transplants were the largest contributing factor to the new record, with 32 living kidney transplants and 13 living liver transplants performed in 2022.
Another transplant surgeon, Dr. Diane Alonso, praised those living donors.
“They are often undergoing major surgery to give new life to their aunts, uncles, brothers, sisters, neighbors – and sometimes to someone they don’t even know,” she said. “They truly are giving the gift of life and we do our best to be great stewards of that gift.”
One Utah woman did not hesitate to see if she was a match to provide a liver to a friend and co-worker at Lumen Technologies, someone with whom she worked alongside for 10 years.
When Carrie Riggs mentioned she needed a liver transplant, Kristin Fogarty said, “I’ll do it! Give me the information.”
Fogarty said she knew that if she was a match, moving forward with the transplant was the right move. And within a few months she was approved as a donor for her friend.
“I was terrified,” Riggs said. “I thought I had to wait for someone to die and that scared me. … Kristine was my lifeline. She saved my life. We are now closer than ever.”
Botha said the increasing number of transplants each year is due to more donors becoming available, improvements in medical technology and an increase in organ availability from a wider range of donor organs — partially due to a specialized long-range medical jet operated by Intermountain Life Flight.
“The increased reach of this jet has been dramatic and has truly helped us be a leader in the transplant community,” said Botha.
The performed in 2022 program — which Intermountain launched with InVita Healthcare Technologies and Donor Connect to streamline the donor referral process and help identify potential donors — also led to an increased number of successful transplants in 2022.
Botha said liver transplants at Intermountain Health exceed even the national average.
The United States surpassed performed in 2022 in 2022, including organ, eye and tissue donations, according to United Network for Organ Sharing, the nonprofit organization that contracts with the federal government to organize donation efforts across the country. It also reported a record-breaking year in 2022, with more than 42,800 organ transplants — an increase of 3.7 percent over 2021.
The national record also includes over 25,000 kidney transplants, a record-first for the country.
Intermountain is a leading organization in the performed in 2022, with a nationwide registry for transplanting “exceptionally well-matched” living kidneys; and the Utah-based health care organization also participates in the National Kidney Foundation’s paired kidney exchange program. Both involvements lead to a greater number of transplants both in Utah and surrounding communities that Intermountain serves.
“We thank all the living and deceased organ donors, as well as the loved ones of deceased donors, who have provided a life-saving gift,” said Dr. Jerry McCauley, president of the United Network for Organ Sharing board of directors. “We also honor all the clinicians and professionals involved in organ donation and transplantation, who work tirelessly to make as many transplants happen as possible every day.”
He said many people in Utah and elsewhere, “wait anxiously for a life-giving transplant,” and that one organ donor can save as many as eight people.
For more information, or to register as an organ donor, visit yesUtah.org.
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