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Despite COVID-19, Virginia hits record number of organ transplants in 2020

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Posted at 10:14 PM, Jan 18, 2021
and last updated 2021-01-18 23:05:12-05

VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. – Earlier this month, 60-year-old Curt Holland hit another milestone.

“This was just a hugely generous and gracious gift,” the Lynchburg resident said.

That gift was a new heart.

January 3 marked six years since Holland was discharged from the hospital with that life-saving gift and new lease on life. With his wife Kim by his side, Curt wore a Superman shirt the day he left.

“You’re just feeling like Superman because you get to come home from the hospital, and you’re embarking on a new journey,” said Curt Holland.

Holland was born with hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, where his heart was enlarged. It becomes a progressively degenerative situation. When he was about 50, his heart was really failing. His quality life went to zero, where walking to the mailbox left him out of breath.

The Hollands admit the new journey wouldn’t have been possible without his donor.

“It’s a journey like no other,” Kim Holland said. “I can’t imagine life without him here, and I am so thankful.”

Organ donations across Virginia broke a new record in 2020.

Despite the challenges of the COVID-19 crisis, LifeNet Health’s Executive Vice President Doug Wilson said they’ve coordinated a total of 616 organ transplants, beating the previous year’s record by 31 organs.

LifeNet Health is Virginia’s federally-designated Organ Procurement Organization (OPO). 2020 was the third consecutive record-breaking year in Virginia.

“To hear people talk about a life without dialysis - without going to a dialysis clinic for 3-6 hours three times a week and then being sick the day after - is something you can only wish for,” Wilson said.

While more people may be signing up to become donors, the need is still critical.

Wilson said nearly 2,500 Virginians are on the transplant list, with approximately four people being added every day.

Nationwide, he says 20 people die every day waiting for an organ.

“Currently in the U.S. there are about 108,000 men, women and children that are waiting for an organ,” Wilson said. “We can save a lot of lives if people do make the decision to be a donor.”

For Curt Holland, his new heart that’s beating strong six years later makes him feel like a real-life superhero.

“The gift of a donated heart has given me the opportunity to do so many things that I would’ve never been able to do otherwise,” he said.

If you would like to help save lives by registering as a donor, you can sign up at the DMV or go to RegisterMe.org to learn more.

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