The United States just hit a huge milestone in the world of organ donation reaching 1 million transplants.
“It’s not so much about the 1 million, it’s about the million ones,” said United Network for Organ Sharing CEO Brian Shepard. “There are a million individuals restored to health, and not just to health, but to their families, to their workplaces, to their congregations, to their communities."
Shepard said the U.S. is the first country in the world to reach a million. He said collaboration is a big reason we're so far ahead.
"Some of these organizations, you might think of as competitors, but really, in transplant, folks are working together, they’re sharing best practices, they’re sharing what they’ve learned and the system advances,” he said.
The first human organ to ever be transplanted was a kidney back in 1954. Kidneys have led the way since, followed by livers, hearts and lungs.
Shepard said recent advancements have also allowed for more non-traditional transplants.
“Hand and face transplants, the field of uterus transplants has really sort of appeared all of a sudden and is making a tremendous difference in people’s lives who are trying to have children,” he said.
More than 40,000 transplants are performed in the U.S. each year, double what it was 25 years ago.