The Center for Organ Recovery & Education announced Monday, May 10, that it had recovered the liver of the oldest recorded organ donor in US history, Cecil F. Lockhart, 95, of Welch, West Virginia , died May 4.
The record was confirmed by the United Network for Organ Sharing (UNOS), and the recipient of Lockhart’s gift, a woman in her sixties, is doing well.
“CORE is incredibly proud to have been able to make this historic organ donation possible,” said Susan Stuart, President and CEO of CORE. “This milestone in transplantation is just another example of CORE’s pioneering legacy and commitment to innovation, which over the past 40 years has delivered 6,000 people in the United States the possibility of saving more than 15,000 others as organ donors. “
Lockhart’s family said he was pressured into becoming an organ donor after the death of his son, Stanley, in 2010, after which Stanley healed the lives of 75 people through tissue donation and returned the seen to two others thanks to a donation of cornea.
Cecil Lockhart is survived by Helen Cline Lockhart, his wife of 75 years; his daughter, Sharon White; and his son, Brian Lockhart; as well as three grandchildren and six great grandchildren.
“He was a generous person during his lifetime, and we are filled with pride and hope knowing that even after a long and happy life, he is able to carry on this legacy of generosity,” White said. “When my brother was a donor after he passed away a few years ago, it helped my father heal. And today, knowing that his life continues through others really helps us overcome our grief too.
Lockhart was born in Short Pole, West Virginia, in 1926, the sixth of seven children. He was a proud coal miner working in the mines of West Virginia for over 50 years. Cecil served as a corporal in the United States Army during World War II.
At Lockhart’s funeral, which included full military honors, the family asked everyone to register as an organ donor to honor his memory. Only a third of Western Virginians are registered as organ donors.
More than 30% of all organ donors who have died in the United States since 1988 are 50 years or older, according to UNOS data, and this is an increasing trend. So far, in 2021, 39% of all deceased organ donors in the United States were aged 50 or older – an increase of more than 8% from just 20 years ago.
“Too often people mistakenly believe that there is an age limit associated with organ donation,” said UNOS Chief Medical Officer David Klassen. “The truth is, no one is ever too old or too young to offer life. Each potential donor is assessed on a case-by-case basis at the time of death to determine which organs and tissues are suitable for donation. Cecil’s generous and historic donation is a perfect example.
According to his family, “Cecil was kind and loving. He greeted everyone with a big smile, a kind word and a big hug. He will be missed. ”They say that besides being a paw-and-paw worshiper for his great-grandchildren, he was an animal lover and leaves behind many special friends including four birds, Fred, Caesar , Heckle and Jekyll; two dogs, Cephas and Molly; and a cat, Casper.
One person can save the lives of eight people by donating organs and the lives of 75 people can be healed through tissue donation. Anyone can sign up to be a donor, regardless of age or medical history. Register on registerme.org/core.