CORE Breaks Organ Donation Record; Credits Donors, Hospital Partners, Focus On Excellence

Unprecedented Number of Donations Save and Heal More Than 80,000 People

PITTSBURGH, Jan. 10, 2020 – The Center for Organ Recovery & Education (CORE) announced today that 2019 was a record-breaking year for saving and healing lives in western Pennsylvania and West Virginia through organ, tissue and cornea donation.  

CORE, the nonprofit organization that facilitates organ, tissue and cornea donation in western Pennsylvania, West Virginia and Chemung County, New York, made possible 661 life-saving organ transplants in 2019 — an increase of nearly 10% over 2018 — because of the generosity of 253 organ donors, nearly 20% more donors than in the previous year. Also, a more than 4% increase in the number of tissue and cornea donors means healing and restored sight to more than 80,000 people worldwide.  

Solid partnerships with the 150 hospitals and seven transplant centers that CORE serves proved critical to reaching this unprecedented number of donations and transplants. In 2019, CORE also maintained performance among the top 10% of the nation’s 58 organ procurement organizations (OPOs).

 “While CORE takes great satisfaction in being a model for healthcare organizations nationwide, this record-breaking year is a culmination of the commitment and the energy shown by our hospital partners, our board, volunteers, staff and friends,” said Susan Stuart, president and CEO, CORE. “And we must not forget that our work is only made possible by the selfless donors and their courageous families who make the powerful decision to give the gift of life. Our success is a celebration of our donors and their families, and an acknowledgment of their life-saving and healing gifts.”

This substantial achievement comes only months after CORE was selected as a Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award winner — the highest level of national recognition for performance excellence that a U.S. organization can receive — by U.S. Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross. CORE is one of only five Pennsylvania and two West Virginia organizations ever to achieve the Baldrige Award in the award’s more than 30-year history.

“These successive accomplishments are proof of CORE’s commitment to change the lives of grieving donor families, brave recipients and those holding out hope for a life-saving transplant,” Stuart said. “Year after year, CORE is making substantial, life-saving contributions in Pennsylvania and West Virginia. 2019 was no different.”

Throughout 2019, CORE also worked tirelessly to increase the awareness about organ donation and make it easier for people to register as organ donors. Among these efforts, CORE partnered with the West Virginia Department of Natural Resources and WV Governor Jim Justice to push forward innovative legislation allowing West Virginians to sign up as organ donors on their hunting and fishing license applications. Additionally, 2019 marked the first year that the Donate Life PA Act was law in Pennsylvania; this much-needed update to the state’s 1994 organ donation law, which was spearheaded by CORE, safeguards the opportunity for donation for grieving donor families.

With the number of people waiting for a transplant far exceeding the organs, tissue and corneas that are available, the need is great. Nationally, nearly 113,000 people are awaiting an organ transplant. At least 20 will die each day without receiving one, including two from CORE’s service area. For every person who donates their organs, tissue and corneas, up to 75 lives can be saved or dramatically improved.

 “Although 2019 was an exceptional year for donation locally, CORE also recognizes that more than 2,500 people in western Pennsylvania and West Virginia are waiting for life-saving transplants,” Stuart said. “In 2020, CORE will continue to do what we do best: Save and Heal lives through organ, tissue and cornea donation.”

About CORE

The Center for Organ Recovery & Education (CORE) is one of 58 federally designated not-for-profit organ procurement organizations (OPOs) in the United States, serving more than five million people in western Pennsylvania, West Virginia and Chemung County, New York. CORE coordinates the recovery and matching of organs, tissues and corneas for transplant within our service region and works tirelessly to create a culture of donation within the hospitals and communities we serve. CORE’s mission is to Save and Heal lives through donation, ultimately ending the deaths of those on the transplant waiting list, while maintaining integrity for the donation process, dignity for the donors, and compassion for their families. CORE is a winner of the 2019 Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award, a presidential-level award that recognizes non-profits for their innovation and excellence. For more information, visit or call 1-800-DONORS-7. 

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