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UW Organ Transplant, Donation Programs have Record Year

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Madison, Wisconsin - The UW Health Transplant Program, celebrating its milestone 50th year of service in 2016,  and UW Organ and Tissue Donation both experienced one of their busiest years on record, becoming the nation’s fourth largest transplant program by volume and serving more donor families than ever before.


In 2016, the UW Health Transplant Program set a program record for kidney transplants (313), liver transplants (105), and solitary pancreas transplants (23), during a single year. In total, the program transplanted 598 organs—100 more than in 2015 and the third most in the 50-year history of the program.


“The number of lives we were able to improve this past year can be attributed to the incredible dedication  of our surgeons, internists, nurses, and entire support staff, as well as the impressive work of UW Organ and Tissue Donation,” said Dr. Dixon B. Kaufman, chief of the UW Health Transplant Program. “But most importantly, none of this would have been possible without the generosity of donors and their families, whose selfless decision to give the gift of life expresses an act of kindness beyond words.”


UW Organ and Tissue Donation, widely considered to be one of the most successful organ procurement organizations in the country, saw its busiest year yet, serving 150 families of deceased donors and reaching a 95 percent regulatory conversion rate—a measure of the medically eligible donors who were converted to actual donors. The average national rate is 77 percent.


“Our success is a reflection, in part, of the changing public attitudes toward organ donation and the compassionate care and support that UW OTD staff and our hospital partners provide to families in times of their greatest personal crises,” said Michael Anderson, executive director of the UW OTD. “The donors and their families are the true heroes in this story, and we are forever grateful and humbled by their incredible acts of generosity.”


The increased number of transplants in Wisconsin reflects a national trend, which saw the number of transplants performed in the United States in 2016 reach a new record high for the fourth consecutive year, according to preliminary data from United Network for Organ Sharing (UNOS). For the year, 33,606 transplants were reported nationally, representing an 8.5 percent increase over the 2015 total and an increase of 19.8 percent since 2012.


The growth in overall transplants was largely driven by an increase of 9.2 percent in the number of deceased donors from 2015 to 2016, continuing a six-year trend of annual increases. Many deceased donors provide multiple organs for transplantation. Approximately 82 percent (27,628) of the transplants involved organs from deceased donors. The remaining 18 percent (5,978) were performed with organs from living donors.


Despite these promising numbers, more than 119,000 people nationally are waiting for a lifesaving transplant, including more than 2,200 people right here in Wisconsin.


Anyone 15 ½ or older can register to be an organ, tissue and eye donor at the Wisconsin DMV or online at

Date Published: 01/17/2017

News tag(s):  transplant

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