LOUISVILLE, Ky. (LEX 18) — For the fifth consecutive year, Kentucky Organ Donor Affiliates (KODA) has once again broken its record of saving lives.
In 2022, 239 organ donors and 539 tissue donors resulted in nearly 600 lives saved across the Commonwealth — a 23% increase in organ donation compared to 2021 and the most lives saved in any year.
LEX 18 spoke with a man who lives in Lexington, Tommy Shafer, who was a recipient of a kidney last year.
“When you’re on dialysis you can’t live,” Shafer said. “It’s dialysis, eat, sleep, and work if you have to.”
He and his wife, who is receiving maintenance therapy for breast cancer, were both forced to face their own mortality.
“We’re both prepared for the day we don’t have each other but focused on now and the time we have together,” Shafer said.
The news Shafer had been waiting for came last August. A donor had been found.
“It was just a pure sense of disbelief and euphoria.”
He’s celebrating the news of the record-setting number of organ donations. He calls everyone who donates a hero.
"They've all given life to someone, they've given someone a second chance, they've made someone stop hurting, they've made someone stop being sick," Shafer said.
Partnerships with 112 hospitals and area transplant centers throughout the region supported the organization and made another year of record-breaking donation numbers possible.
KODA also has partnerships with the Kentucky Circuit Court Clerks, Donate Life KY, Kentucky Transportation Cabinet, Eye Bank of Kentucky, Coroners, and Medical Examiners, which are key to the mission’s success.
Eye Bank of Kentucky reported 710 cornea donors gave the gift of sight in 2022, resulting in 1106 total transplanted corneas. KY Circuit Court Clerks’ Trust For Life says more than 90,000 people joined Kentucky’s confidential organ donor registry, stating their wish to be donors and help others.
Currently, the number of people waiting for a transplant still far exceeds the available number of organs, tissues, and corneas. There are 1,032 individuals in Kentucky waiting for a life-saving organ transplant and thousands of others who will be in need of a tissue or cornea transplant in 2023.
Those interested in becoming donors can register online at RegistermeKY.org.