TAMPA, FLA.- — The LifeLink Foundation said more lives were saved through organ donation last year than ever before despite a pandemic.
LifeLink Foundation serves 15 counties on the west coast of Florida.
In 2020, there were 295 organ donors and 913 organs were transplanted.
LifeLink of Florida continued to recover organs through deceased donors throughout the pandemic.
"We were grateful to see we were able to save more lives than ever in 2020 despite challenges of COVID-19," said Ashley Moore with the LifeLink Foundation.
"We actually hit 11.4 million donors registered in the state of Florida and that actually makes us the third largest registry in the country." she added.
Ashley Moore, spokesperson for LifeLink Foundation, said deceased donors were tested for COVID-19 before their organs could be donated.
"We did have a dedicated staff. We were able to really adjust quickly and I think that was key for us to be able to figure out how to provide testing for our donors and how to implement that quickly," said Ashley Moore, Public Affairs LifeLink Foundation.
The McKeon family shared their story with ABC Action News. Their son, Zachary, died unexpectedly in June of 2020.
The 23-year-old was an organ donor and saved the lives of four people.
"That's the kind of person Zach was. He just knew at 15 years old that he wanted to be an organ donor," said Dan McKeon, Zach's father.
Zach's heart, both kidneys, and liver were donated.
"Imagine being on the other side of losing a loved one. You would want them to have a chance at life and of course, people are so appreciative when they are able to accept an organ donation," said Olivia Wynn, Zach's fiancé.
Zach's mom sent letters through LifeLink to the recipients of her son's organs and LifeLink passed those letters to the transplant centers where those recipients were treated.
The McKeon family heard from three recipients who expressed to them how their lives were saved because of their son.
"It is the highlight of our day, our week, our month. It's the best gift anyone could ever give us. We're going to meet them and have them down here. It's so nice to hear from the recipients," said Dawn McKeon, Zach's mother.
Zach's family encourages people to consider becoming an organ donor.
"For the other families who received his organs that they don't have to feel the loss that we felt," said Kaitlin McKeon, Zach's sister.
"That's probably the greatest part about it. Just knowing that Zach was able to save someone's life and then change their family's life as well."
To learn more about becoming an organ donor visit: www.donatelifeflorida.org.