VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. – Sunday, February 14 is not just Valentine’s Day; it’s National Donor Day.
Lifenet Health, based in Virginia Beach, is the world’s largest provider of transplant solutions, according to Executive Vice President Doug Wilson. In 2020, Lifenet Health coordinated 616 organ transplants which is a record number.
“Considering the pandemic was going on most of last year, we were really gratified to see that we could transplant so many patients,” Wilson stated.
The statistics may seem grim, but Wilson says COVID-19 is not making waiting lists longer.
“Twenty people die every day waiting for an organ,” Wilson said. “So, the lists are incredibly long and unmanageable, but they’re not growing and that’s the good news.”
When it comes to living donors, Wilson said they do not accept organs from individuals with active COVID-19; however, they always screen for safety.
“COVID and many infectious other diseases that are active do rule out patients to be a donor,” explained Wilson. “We ensure that organs that are donated are healthy, and they’re only going to help a potential recipient and not cause any harm.”
Lifenet Health reports that 60% of patients on the kidney waiting list are African American.
“We need to engage that community and serve that community and encourage them to be a donor to support those on that list,” commented Wilson.
A recipient of a new kidney is C.J. Richardson, a Richmond resident and comedian. He tells News 3 that he was on dialysis for over three years when he got the news of a match.
"I encourage people to find your driver's license and get that heart put on there that says- 'Hey, I’m a donor.' Because you’re a hero. That’s what it means to me. You’re a hero. I had a hero that saved my life, so I’m encouraging others to be a hero. And I’m going to be a hero. I’m a donor as well," exclaimed Richardson.
For more information on becoming a donor, visit registerme.org.