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Northern California organ donor service reaches record transplants in 2023

California organ donor service reaches record transplants in 2023
California organ donor service reaches record transplants in 2023 02:12

SACRAMENTO — Over 20,000 patients are currently waiting for an organ transplant in California, but when it comes to the Sacramento region, transplant procedures just hit a major milestone.

Dwayne Wilson always knew he needed a heart transplant but didn't think he'd hold on long enough to get one.

"I had issues since I was 17 and I was transplanted at 58, so I always knew for me to live long, it was going to come down to a heart transplant," Wilson said. "I never thought it was going to happen."

But it did. It was a gift of life from someone who had passed. Wilson doesn't know who it was but hopes to meet their family one day to say thank you.

"Every time I see the 650 phone number pop up, I'm thinking, 'OK, maybe that's my donor.' You know, that kind of thing," he said. "I would definitely love to see that, meet that family, and share my heart and share the tears. I know it would be very emotional."

It turns out that if you need a transplant, Northern California is a good place to be. Sierra Donor Services serves 13 counties. Last year was a record breaker when it comes to organ and tissue donation: 442 lifesaving organ transplants.

"I think, for sure, it goes back to the community," said Sean van Slyck, with Sierra Donor Services. "I think it goes back to the generosity of the community that we serve and work with."

The goal is to keep expanding. Over 90% of people say they support organ donation, but in California, only 56% are registered to donate.

"The more we can get folks to talk about donation, talk about it with family members and ultimately register, yeah, we can hopefully get that number from 56 up to 75, that's our goal," van Slyck said.

It doesn't just change lives. It saves them, giving people like Wilson a chance to grow old even if they don't look like it.

Sierra Donor Services also recovered a record number of musculoskeletal and cardiac grafts that will directly heal thousands of patients in need.

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