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More people than ever donating organs for transplants

Posted at 6:27 PM, Jan 15, 2019
and last updated 2019-01-15 19:31:00-05

CLEVELAND — People across the county are donating organs more than ever, including at the Cleveland Clinic.

There was a 24 percent increase last year in organ transplants compared to the year before.

More organ transplants happened at the Cleveland Clinic than ever before.

David Labocki was one of the recipients of an organ transplant.

"A year ago, I was sick,” said Labocki.

He needed a new kidney, again. A disease attacked in his kidneys in 2011, his brother gave him one of his kidneys. But, antibodies started building against that kidney, it was working at just 10 percent. He needed a new kidney and his wife was ready to give him more than her heart.

“He was O blood type, I was O blood type. I thought it would be a match,” said Danae Labocki.

But, she wasn’t, and neither were the 30 other family members and friends who got tested.

Dr. Alvin Wee at the Cleveland Clinic discovered another patient was a match, starting the first ever three-way kidney transplant swap. Three willing kidney donors, three ready recipients, one problem. Every donor was incompatible with the person they wanted to help, but between them, all could be helped. This is just one reason, Wee said, the Cleveland Clinic set a record for the number of kidney transplants in 2018.

“Organs not deemed usable in the past, we’re able to use, “ said Wee.

Wee said innovation, technology, the exchange program and awareness all lead to an increase in organ transplants.

But he is quick to point out it is the donors who make the difference.

“I get to see the goodness in humanity,” said Wee. “In this world you hear the bad news, there are good things left in us."

According to Lifebanc, more than 62,000 people in Northeast Ohio registered to be an organ donor for the first time last year.