The United States recorded its millionth organ transplant on Friday afternoon, a historic milestone for the medical procedure that has saved thousands of lives.
The record achievement was confirmed at 12:50 p.m. ET by the United Network for Organ Sharing, a nonprofit that operates the country’s only organ procurement and transplant network, ABC News reported.
It is unclear which organ was the millionth record and patient details are unknown at this time.
The very first successful organ transplant took place in 1954 at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston when doctors transplanted a kidney from 23-year-old Ronald Herrick to his identical twin brother, Richard, who suffered from chronic kidney failure.
The lead surgeon, Dr. Joseph Murray, was awarded the Nobel Prize in Medicine for his role in the procedure.
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Until the early 1980s, the number of annual transplants remained low. However, the success of transplants of organs other than the kidneys – such as the heart, liver and pancreas – and the advent of anti-rejection drugs have led to an increase in transplants, according to UNOS.
Since then, transplants have become a much more common procedure.
Over 500,000 transplants have been performed since 2007, and in 2021 over 41,000 transplants have taken place, the highest number on record and twice as many as 25 years ago.
Despite more patients undergoing transplants than ever before, that doesn’t mean the agency is flawless.
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About 5,000 people die each year while waiting on transplant lists. And a study published today in the Journal of the American Society of Nephrology in October 2020 found that many donor kidneys in the United States are discarded unnecessarily.
But organ donors and recipients hope that by sharing their stories, they will inspire people to sign up to donate and help reduce those long waiting lists.
When Nicholas Peters was killed in a motorcycle accident in 2020, his mother, Maria Clark, honored his wish to be an organ donor.
Her heart went out to Jean Paul Marceaux, a sixth-grade student in Arkansas who had suffered from heart problems for years.
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The families have since met and become close ever since. Clark, of Madisonville, Louisiana, was even able to listen to his son’s heartbeat in Marceaux with a stethoscope.
“That’s why we’re telling our story — so people sign up to become donors,” Candace Armstrong, Marceaux’s mother, said in a statement.
Clark added: “We’re all going to get out of here. You need to talk to your family and let them know that you want your organs to continue, to prolong other people’s lives. I want people to know that Nick was there. love, he was the element of love, always helping, and it’s just like him to keep giving and spreading love.”
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