GRAND JUNCTION, Colo. (KREX) — “It’s not only the largest number that we have seen in the United States, its the largest number that any country has done in a single year,” Brian Shepard, CEO of United Network for Organ Sharing says.

40,000 lifesaving transplants in just one year is a remarkable record. Most donate posthumously but Meredith McCurdy is among a small army of living donors. “Living liver donors are only about 500 but I hope that someday there will be so many of us that my story is boring,,” Meredith McCurdy, local liver donor says.

69% of Coloradan’s are registered as deceased organ donor’s making our state number one in the nation. “But I think being a living organ donor is not something you think about until you are presented with the opportunity,” McCurdy says.

That opportunity was a friend from high school with an uncommon auto-immune disorder. “That transplant was her next and last option,” McCurdy says.

When Merideth learned she could donate half her liver and make a full recovery, “I couldn’t think of any reason not to really,” McCurdy says, but undergoing surgery during a pandemic isn’t easy. “A lot of the health care workers were tired, they were burnt out from a challenging time through COVID,” McCurdy said.

COVID-19 cut the number of transplants in hospitals nationwide, in half. “The same hospitals that are doing organ transplants are the ones treating COVID patients, being overwhelmed in their emergency rooms,” Shepard says.

Even with setbacks the United Network for Organ Sharing recorded a new record of 40,000 transplants and has encouraging news for 2022. “We have a number of technology innovations we are going to roll out in the year, some data to better target the right donor to the right patient, travel tools, tracking tools, and we think we can do even more,” Shepard said.

Currently, more than 106,000 men, women and children are on the waiting list for a transplant. “As long there are people waiting we will still be working,” Shepard says.

People like Meredith McCurdy will keep giving and encouraging others to give the gift of life.