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Surgeons performed a record-breaking 27,025 organ transplants last year. That's a 6% increase from the previous year and the most on record for any single year. According to the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), an increase in donations from brain-dead patients, which increased by 11%, accounted for most of the growth.


In 2004, three organs were transplanted on average from each of 7,153 brain-dead donors. Donations from living organ donors (primarily kidney donors) numbered 6,965, an increase of only 2%. From 2001 through 2003, living donors had outnumbered brain-dead donors.


Many attribute the increase in brain-dead donors to an HHS initiative to share successful techniques among organ procurement groups in 200 hospitals that care for many potential organ donors. But the jump in donors still falls far short of the demand: Last year, 6,200 people died waiting for an organ, and 88,000 are still waiting.