More than 30,000 organ transplants were performed in the United States in 2015, breaking an annual record for the procedure, according to data from the Organ Procurement and Transplantation Network.
The year ended with a total of 30,973 transplants, according to a statement from the United Network for Organ Sharing
, which serves as the Organ Procurement and Transplantation Network under federal contract. Transplants topped 30,000 for the first time ever on Dec. 19, the statement said.
"This landmark achievement is a testament to the generosity of the American public to help others through donation, and their trust in the transplant system to honor their life-saving gift," Betsy Walsh, president of the Organ Procurement and Transplantation Network/United Network for Organ Sharing, said in the release.
The 30,973 transplants represented almost a 4.9-percent increase from 2014, according to the UNOS statement. The network said that roughly 81 percent of the transplants (24,982) came from deceased donors, who could have donated multiple organs to different people.
Kristina and Cliff Armstead told NBC News
that they made the decision to donate the organs of their 8-year-old son this year after a rare birth defect triggered a devastating brain hemorrhage that killed him. They donated both kidneys, his liver, and pancreas.
"You have the power to change someone's entire course of events, their entire lives. And that's what our sweet boy did," Kristina Armstead told NBC News. "People feel . . . if they sign up, they are jinxing themselves and that they'll receive sub-par care."
"The care for Joseph didn't change once they realized he would not be coming back to us and that he would be becoming an organ donor. The surgeon, he did everything possible to save our child. He worked so hard to save our child," she added.
Brian Shepard, chief executive officer of the United Network for Organ Sharing, said in the network's statement that, despite the increase, improvements still need to be made to the network's matching system to ensure more organs are accepted and used to create the best outcomes for those receiving them.
"We work every day to give as many people as possible an opportunity for renewed life and health through transplantation," Shepard said. "These trends are encouraging, and they make a huge difference not only for transplant recipients but for many more people whose lives they touch."
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