UTAH (ABC4) – Though the majority of 2021 was confusing and hectic for many of us, the year still proved to have its silver linings as Intermountain Healthcare professionals announced their success in carrying out their 5,000th organ transplant in 2021, making it another record-breaking year for the organization.
The year 2021 marks the third consecutive record-breaking year for the Intermountain Transplant Services team. The crew performed a total number of 289 organ transplants in 2021, which included 170 kidney transplants, six pancreas transplants, 94 liver transplants, and 19 heart transplants.
“COVID may have turned the world upside down, but our transplant team has been creative and worked hard to change a lot of lives in another unprecedented year,” says Diane Alonso, MD, transplant surgeon and medical director of Intermountain Healthcare’s abdominal transplant program. “We’re proud of every caregiver at Intermountain Healthcare and the team who worked tirelessly to innovate ways to safely discover additional donor opportunities.”
The Intermountain Transplant Services team has been working towards their goal of 5,000 successful transplants since they performed Utah’s first organ transplant at an LDS Hospital when a sister donated one of her kidneys to her brother.
The nation itself additionally reported a record-breaking year in regards to organ transplants. As of Dec. 17, 2021, the United States exceeded 40,000 successful transplants in one year. Today, only 106,660 American men, women, and children are on the waiting list for an organ transplant, a record low since 2009.
Jesse Davis, a North Ogden resident, is one of many who was given a second chance thanks to the organ donation program at Intermountain.
Davis, the 36-year-old mother, wife, and school teacher was diagnosed with Primary Sclerosing Cholangitis (PSC) thirteen years ago – a rare disease that targets the liver and attacks the bile ducts. She suffered through the pain until Aug. 2020 when her liver almost gave out and she was placed on the transplant list.
Shawna Blamires, a fellow teacher, friend, and mentor of Davis was the first person to sign up to donate as well as a perfect match.
The surgery took place at Intermountain Medical Center on Jan. 5, 2021, the same day Davis says she got her life back.
“Life has been so wonderful and fun, and I owe it to Shawna who didn’t wait until she was dead, she donated when it was needed,” said Jesse. “I am a completely different person. I can play with my daughter, I ride my horses everywhere, and I am back teaching full time.”
To learn more about organ donation or register to become an organ donor, visit the Intermountain Healthcare website.