LOUISVILLE -- The power of yes has resulted in 2019 being a record-breaking year for saving lives around Kentucky. Kentucky Organ Donor Affiliates (KODA), the organ procurement organization for most of Kentucky, Southern Indiana and Huntington, W. Va, was able to support the decisions for donation and transplantation of 137 organ donors resulting in 416 organs being transplanted. This was the highest number of organ donors ever for KODA.

Additionally, there were a record-breaking 523 tissue donors who generously healed thousands of lives with their gifts in 2019, representing a 42% increase over the previous year. KODA's partner Kentucky Lions Eye Bank also reported 734 cornea donors gave the gift of sight in 2019 resulting in 1,142 corneal transplants.

Julie Bergin, KODA's president, and CEO said 2019 was an extraordinary year of growth for KODA.

"Looking back over the past 12 months, we have achieved ambitious goals including rapid growth in employment to support more families than ever before and saving more lives through organ and tissue transplantation," Bergin said in a release. "I am proud to work with such a committed and caring group of people who work tirelessly to honor the gift of donation."

Bergin said that growth in 2019 positions KODA to help more in 2020 and beyond. She said there's still much to be done, pointing to nearly 113,000 patients still in need of the healing gifts given by organ donors.

"We will continue to work tirelessly to meet the need," Bergin said in the release.

Among its 137 donors, KODA staff facilitated 35 Donation after Cardiac Death Donors (DCD), nearly double from 2018. In most cases, an organ donor has died from brain death. However, in some cases, the gift of life is possible for a limited time after cardiac death has been pronounced.

The partnerships built with 112 hospitals and three transplant centers that KODA serves were essential to reaching an unprecedented number of donations last year. KODA also worked closely with the Kentucky Circuit Court Clerks, Kentucky state legislators and local Coroners to ensure continued success of the mission.

Nationally in 2019, 11,870 people gave the lifesaving gift of organ donation upon their death resulting in nearly 40,000 total transplants. According to the United Network for Organ Sharing (UNOS), this made 2019 the seventh straight year of increase in the number of transplants performed.

For more information about organ, tissue and cornea donation or to register as a donor, visit donatelifeky.org.

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