More Utahns get live-saving transplants in 2013 than ever before

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SALT LAKE CITY -- More than 300 people in Utah were able to receive a lifesaving transplant in 2013, which is the highest number in the state to date.

“These things aren’t just close to my kidney, they’re close to my heart too,” Local Organ Recipient Gerald Wayman said.

Wayman said he is grateful for what he has been given.

“Everything I do, I think it’s not just for me,” he said. “I’m living for somebody who gave their all to give me the chance to continue to live.”

Wayman had the first organ transplant of 2013 at Intermountain Medical Center Transplant Clinic in Murray.  But it was his second time on the operating table for a kidney transplant.

“We didn’t think he was going to survive, his organs were all going to shut down,” said Shauna Wayman, who is Gerald’s wife.

His first transplant was from his brother, but last year his body rejected the kidney.

“It must have been sibling rivalry or something,” Gerald Wayman said.

Gerald then had to find another donor. Shortly after, his cousin had an aneurism and was pronounced brain dead. Just two months prior his death, his cousin had registered to be an organ donor when he renewed his driver's license. He proved to be a perfect match.

Dr. Willem Van Der Werf at Intermountain Medical Center said they are grateful for each story.

“There’s just that many more people who can go on with their lives, their normal lives and do things that maybe sometimes, things we take for granted,” he said.

One of the key factors for this milestone in organ transplants is the increased awareness in organ donations. In Utah, 72 percent of residents are now registered organ donors.

Currently there are almost 800 people on the waiting list in Utah. For more information or to register on the Utah donor registry, click here.