For people waiting for an organ transplant, each day is an exercise in hope. That’s because every nine minutes someone is added to the national transplant waiting list. As of April 6, 2021, 107,654 people were on the list, according to the United Network of Organ Sharing. But because of a shortage of organ donors, 17 people on the list die each day.
It is possible, however, to significantly reduce this number, especially since one organ donor has the potential to save eight lives. While people can register to become a deceased donor, a growing number of people are signing up to become living organ donors. In fact, prior to the coronavirus pandemic, the number of living donor transplants in the U.S. climbed to more than 7,400. And even amid the COVID-19 outbreak, more than 5,000 transplants took place in 2020 because a living donor stepped up to give someone a second chance at life.
The special people below are among those who have become living organ donors at NewYork-Presbyterian, giving the ultimate gift of life by donating a portion of their livers or a kidney to family, friends, or even strangers in need at NewYork-Presbyterian/Weill Cornell Medical Center and NewYork-Presbyterian/Columbia University Irving Medical Center.
Their reasons for becoming living donors range from feeling a deep sense of altruism to receiving a call from a sibling clinging to life to being inspired by a podcast. But the reward for donating an organ is universal, says altruistic kidney donor Hendrik Gerrits, 37: “Organ transplants cross racial divides, social divides, political divides. It’s such a visceral reminder of how we really are completely the same … That is a gift.”