Ohio sees record-breaking year for organ donations; thousands still on waiting list

Tyler Cummins is one of many Ohioans still in need of a transplant. (WBNS)
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More Ohioans than ever received the gift of life in 2018.

Lifeline of Ohio says organ, eye and tissue donations in Ohio broke records last year.

As a result, 366 lives were saved, tissue donation increased by 25 percent and the gift of sight through cornea donation was up 47 percent over 2017.

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Despite this good news, the need is still great.

Tyler Cummins, a 31-year-old of the Short North, was diagnosed with heart disease four years ago.

As a baby, he survived leukemia, but drugs that saved him 30 years ago took a toll on his heart.

"It's a progressive disease and there is no cure," Cummins said.

Since then, with his partner Adam Yates by his side, he's survived surgeries, hospitalizations and cardiac arrest.

"I've been asked to sign a piece of paper because they have to shock him," Yates said. "And that's a hard thing to be faced with. When you're in a hospital situation, an emergency situation, they're like, 'He can't do it, you need to do it.' And you're signing away this, 'Okay, please help save his life.'"

"The reality is, I need a heart," Cummins said. "I am 31, going on 32, and my journey could end before my choosing, I suppose."

He was listed on the transplant waiting list last year but doctors say because of his O-positive blood type, his wait could be years longer.

"I feel a little helpless," he said. "And at times I feel a little discouraged. It's not a tree where you can just go pick an organ off a branch. In order for me to benefit, someone else has to lose. And we're talking about life here. It's the most precious thing in the world."

"I just want to make things better for him," Yates said. "And you have this realization that you can't change it. You can't fix everything."

"I still have ambitions and I still have dreams and I still have these crazy entrepreneurial ideas... and there's still so much of this world to explore," Cummins said. "And I kind of feel trapped in my own body. In this disease, I feel trapped."

Right now, there are 113,766 people waiting for an organ transplant in the United States.

In Ohio, there are 3,000 people waiting, just like Tyler.

To register as an organ, eye or tissue donor, click here.