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U.S. surpasses one million organ transplant milestone

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Posted at 8:53 PM, Sep 16, 2022
and last updated 2022-09-16 23:10:30-04

DENVER — On Sept. 9, the United States reached a historic milestone — one million people have received a life-saving organ transplant since 1954.

According to the Denver-based nonprofit, Donor Alliance, across Colorado and Wyoming, 234 deceased organ donors provided 642 lifesaving organ transplants last year — a new record. The nonprofit believes a new record will be set this year.

“I got my heart when I was 12 weeks old,” said now 17-year-old Eamon Lujan.

Eamon is a senior at Littleton High School and loves life.

“I learned that I love theater, I perform regularly in shows. This summer, me and my mom took a trip to Glenwood Springs and Moab,” the teen said.

Eamon says they wouldn't be here if it wasn't for the heart transplant they received years ago.

Eamon was born with hypoplastic left heart syndrome, a birth defect that affects normal blood flow through the heart, so they needed a new heart in order to survive.

“Everything I've done, everything I am is a result of one generous gift in the midst of grief,” they said.

It's why Eamon says organ donors are so important, stressing how big of a milestone it is to see the U.S. hit the one million mark when it comes to transplants.

“That’s a million people who's lives were changed and saved through organ and tissue donation. There's not a sports stadium that can hold a million people,” said Eamon.

Cheryl Talley with Donor Alliance, which serves all of Colorado and most of Wyoming, says Colorado is the most generous state when it comes to organ donation.

“We lead the nation in donor designation rate, which means 67 percent of our population has said yes to organ donation,” said Talley.

Meanwhile, Talley acknowledges the concerns that sometimes come before registering to be an organ donor, stressing that medical professionals will always focus on saving your life first, not someone else's.

“Doctors are there to save your life, as are the ER and EMTs,” said Talley.

Eamon's gift of life has given them the opportunity to apply for colleges and dream about the future. That gift has inspired them to give back and speak about the importance of organ donation at their school, emphasizing that becoming an organ donor does make a big difference.

“If just one person becomes an organ donor, they can save up to eight lives,” said Lujan.

You can become an organ donor a few ways. You can do that when you get your drivers license at the DMV or visit donatelifecolorado.org.