Friday, July 19, 2024

98-Year-Old Man Becomes the Oldest Organ Donor In America

Orville Allen is the oldest person to ever donate an organ in the United States, according to transplant organizations.

A veteran of the Korean War and World War II, the Missouri-native died on May 29 at the age of 98. His liver was then transplanted to a 72-year-old women.

Allen’s daughter, Linda Mitchelle said her father was in ‘great health’ until he suffered a fall while removing storm debris at his Poplar Bluff home on May 27. He had hit his head and was transported to Cape Girardeau’s St. Francis Medical Center.

The impact ultimately caused his brain to swell up and doctors weren’t able to bring it down.

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Allen is survived by three children, three grandchildren and six great grandchildren.

When his family was about to say their goodbyes at the hospital, doctors asked if they would be willing to donate his liver.

Given his age, his family was surprised by the question. However, surgeons reassured them that his liver was in acceptable condition for transplant.

Knowing their father’s personality and how he had always helped others, Linda and her siblings didn’t hesitate to say yes.

Previously, 95-year-old Cecil Lockhard of West Virginia was the oldest individual to donate an organ. He passed away in 2021 and his liver was successfully transplanted to a woman.

The United Network for Organ Sharing (UNOS), a nonprofit organization that runs the country’s transplant system, said more and more people are receiving new organs. Last year, over 46,000 organ transplants were performed in the U.S. The number of liver transplants also exceeded 10,000 for the first time.

Despite that, over 100,000 people are still in need of a new organ, and many will unfortunately die waiting.

The demand is so great that scientists have started to work on alternatives to alleviate the shortages.

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Richard Slayman became the first person to receive a genetically-modified pig kidney in March

Earlier this year, Richard Slayman, a Massachusetts native, became the first person to receive a genetically modified pig kidney. Hoiwever, he passed away two months after the procedure.

Kevin Lee, the CEO and president of Mid-America Transplant said that more and more older adults have also started to donate organs upon their death.

In 2022, a 90-year-old man from Mid-America successfully donated a liver. Last year, two livers were also procured from an 84-year-old and 88-year-old.

According to Dr. David Klassen, the UNOS’ chief medical officer, the impact of aging varies by organ. For example, hearts are not usually considered from older adults. Livers, however, are ‘resilient’ and they see donations ‘at all ages.’

A War Veteran

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Allen with his great granddaughter

Allen lived in southeast Missouri his entire life and was a pilot in the Army Air Corps during WWII. He then served in artillery communications in the Korean War.

After retiring as a lieutenant colonel, he became an educator at Neelyville High School and also partook in farming. He and his wife, Geraldine, were married for 70 years, prior to her death in 2019.

His family said he never got around to registering as an organ donor but hopes that his story will inspire others to sign up.

In fact, several of Allen’s former students and friends have already said that they will be signing up.

Brooke Carter
Brooke Carter
Freelance writer who loves dogs and anything related to Japanese culture.
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