Donation & Transplantation

Donation & Transplantation

The progress made in donation and transplantation in 2021 was the culmination of many small changes and process improvements across the organization, resulting in more lives saved than ever before. In addition to facilitating local deceased donation, Donor Alliance helped coordinate 144 transplants from donors outside the region and assisted in 56 of the region’s 146 transplants from living donors.

2021 at a glance

A record-setting, far-reaching impact for organ and tissue donation

Topping previous records set in 2020, the region marked its seventh consecutive year of growth. Colorado and Wyoming saw a 9% increase in organ donors.

In addition to the incredible local support for donation in Colorado and Wyoming, the progress made in 2021 is also a result of a combination of innovations and process improvements across the organization. Thanks to medical and technological advancements, strong relationships with partners, employees and local communities, the past year demonstrated how small changes can add up to larger impacts, which directly result in more lives saved and touched by donation.

215 donors
234 donors

Organ donors

A record 234 Colorado and Wyoming organ donors made 642 lifesaving transplants possible in 2021.

1,899 donors
2,082 donors

Tissue donors

2,082 tissue donors made more than 150,000 tissue grafts available to save and heal lives.


A record 234 donors

from Colorado and Wyoming made 642 lifesaving organ transplants possible.


3% more organ transplants

facilitated than ever before.


Top DDRs in the nation

Colorado has the top donor designation rate (DDR) in the country at 67%. Wyoming is also among the most generous states at 62%.

Meet Kelli

Donor mother, Centennial, CO

Kelli lost her son, Jake, when he was just 14. He was her youngest child and loved many of the things that teenage boys love: sports, playing X-Box and hanging out with his friends and family. In 2004, Jake was playing football when he collapsed. He was airlifted to an area medical center with a serious head injury that caused swelling of his brain. After many hours of waiting, his family’s worst nightmare came true: Jake’s brain could not survive the injury.

As a transplant coordinator, Kelli has helped potential organ recipients for decades. That day, she faced her friends and colleagues from a perspective she never anticipated. She and her family were the donor family experiencing the grief and tragedy that she had witnessed so many other families go through.

For Kelli, Jake becoming a donor meant that his life is carried on in others, and it adds purpose to an unimaginable loss. For more than 15 years, Kelli has carried forward Jake’s memory with advocacy work in organ and tissue donation, as well as concussion awareness causes. Additionally, because of Jake’s gifts, 5 patients who were waiting received lifesaving organ transplants, and numerous others received life-enhancing tissue transplants, and were able to return to their lives, families and communities.

“I had never had a specific discussion with Jake about organ donation, but because of my work through the years, he knew what a tremendous gift it represented. That made our decision to donate his organs very natural. Our family carries Jake’s kind and generous spirit with us, and now so do his recipients. Jake’s gifts have allowed them to keep a part of him with them as they live on touching the lives of others.”

In July 2008, Lucy was diagnosed with cirrhosis and ascites. Her entire life, Lucy had been extremely healthy and fit – no surgeries, no chronic conditions or allergies, no regular medications. Her diagnosis was a hard blow to her family and friends, but mostly to her. In August 2009, Lucy got a call from the hospital saying they had a donor for her. Within a couple of months of her surgery, she was able to return to doing all the things she had been missing out on while she was sick.

Since receiving her lifesaving transplant, the impact of Lucy’s donor has rippled to others around her. As Lucy recovered, she was able to sail, kayak, travel and enjoy life with her friends and family. She’s always been an advocate of organ and tissue donation, but now has an opportunity to tell people about the importance of the gift of life through her experiences. Had it not been for her donor and their family, Lucy would not be here today. Her gratitude will always go to them for their wisdom, generosity and compassion.

“As a result of my lifesaving liver transplant, I’m blessed to live my life to the fullest. My diagnosis and the time spent waiting for a transplant were extremely challenging. I share my story to be an example for people new to or in the middle of their own transplant journey. I want to use my experience to give hope to others.”

Meet Lucy

Liver recipient, Cheyenne, WY

Meet Finn

Hero donor, Castle Rock, CO

Finn was one of the most amazing people. He was so full of life and never missed an opportunity to live each moment to the fullest.

Finn became a donor in November 2021 at just eight years old after he passed away following a tragic car accident. On the worst day of his family’s life, Finn becoming a donor meant that his gifts were bringing hope to others, which brought hope to his family. To recognize Finn’s powerful gift, he received a hero’s goodbye with an honor walk at the hospital. Caregivers, family and friends lined a path for Finn as he was moved from the ICU into surgery to recover his organs for transplant. This moving gesture and Finn’s gifts of life left a lasting impact on everyone who knew him and has continued to expand. Finn’s family shares his story to continue his lifesaving legacy and to help inspire others.

“If Donor Alliance hadn’t talked to us at the hospital, I’m positive my son would still be gone and he wouldn’t have had the opportunity to save lives. We are grateful that we’re able to have a relationship with the family of the little boy who received Finn’s heart and for the hundreds, if not thousands, of people who have been inspired after hearing our story and will now check the box to be a donor.” -Ricky Waitman, Finn’s father


Sharing our mission of saving lives

Partner participation in the donation and transplantation process is what makes carrying out our lifesaving work possible. Strong partner relationships are vital in helping us to maximize all donation opportunities and their lifesaving impacts. These important partners include driver license partners, hospitals, transplant centers, coroners and funeral homes, all of whom are elemental in the ripple of donation and transplantation to ensure public registering, smooth referrals, recoveries and transplants.

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