2020 was a record-breaking year for organ transplants in the U.S. Learn about one woman's journey getting a new liver

The year 2020 was record breaking for transplants in the U.S., with 49 lives saved at Mayo Clinic.

Posted: Feb 24, 2021 10:59 AM
Updated: Feb 24, 2021 12:15 PM

ROCHESTER, Minn. - While 2020 was a tough year for most of us, it was also a record breaking year for Mayo Clinic with 49 lives saved thanks to an organ transplant. That's the highest the clinic has seen in a decade.

After 7 and a half years on the wait list, Dawn Burnaby received a liver transplant in November of 2020. A year she said was her worst year and best year. March 6th was the last day she was able to leave her home for something other than an appointment. For 8 months, Burnaby isolated herself to avoid the risk of not getting a transplant. She finally received a direct donation on November 16th, which means the family of someone who passed away knew of her condition and donated the liver directly to her.

When the pandemic hit, Burnaby explained she knew she had to take every precaution possible, no matter how tough it was for her and her family. "We all discussed everything and the kids all discussed everything. All things considered seeing as I had been waiting 7 and a half years already for a transplant, none of us wanted to take the chance of spoiling that in case something did come along," she said. "It's been really hard, especially with her by herself," explained Heidi Nicholson, Burnaby's daughter. "I think it might have made it a little easier on all of us had she had somebody with her. But being by herself, we're what she has."

After her surgery, Burnaby spent 45 days in the ICU and Mayo Clinic, then another 30 days at the Gift of Life Transplant house. She said there's a silver lining to finally getting her transplant during a pandemic. Even though she was alone from her family, she had others within the house going through similar situations. "Everybody helps one another. You enter as strangers and you separate as friends," she explained. "It's been a very rewarding experience. You would never think that a liver transplant could be a rewarding experience, but it has been." If all of her blood work comes back normal on Thursday, Burnaby will be able to go back home to Michigan on Friday.

The need for donors far exceeds how many donors there actually is. Currently, more than 114,000 people are on the waiting list.

Minnesota Coronavirus Cases

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Cases: 697182

Reported Deaths: 8169
CountyCasesDeaths
Hennepin1427711862
Ramsey59431953
Dakota53075503
Anoka48987486
Washington31228315
Stearns25428242
St. Louis20900339
Scott20039146
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Carver1237052
Clay936897
Rice9278125
Blue Earth888747
Crow Wing8070102
Kandiyohi753292
Chisago733858
Otter Tail689897
Benton6653102
Mower576238
Winona564852
Goodhue560581
Douglas549484
Beltrami534672
Itasca532572
Steele520221
McLeod519665
Isanti500470
Morrison478263
Nobles455650
Becker455060
Polk444575
Freeborn438142
Lyon402454
Carlton399160
Nicollet387848
Pine384026
Mille Lacs363860
Brown358244
Cass355536
Le Sueur348230
Todd333034
Meeker314049
Waseca297626
Martin271633
Wabasha25005
Dodge24865
Hubbard241941
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Houston211217
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Fillmore204510
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Faribault184925
Sibley180310
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Grant6938
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Iowa Coronavirus Cases

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Cases: 443535

Reported Deaths: 6420
CountyCasesDeaths
Polk69441683
Linn26618363
Scott23312265
Black Hawk19397338
Woodbury17483233
Johnson1698692
Dubuque14775221
Pottawattamie13369186
Dallas13048102
Story1211448
Warren707893
Webster6479103
Cerro Gordo6370105
Clinton635898
Des Moines618084
Muscatine5985109
Marshall586981
Sioux547676
Jasper532076
Lee529084
Wapello5230128
Unassigned50150
Buena Vista479442
Marion464086
Plymouth442185
Henry351341
Jones341159
Bremer331365
Washington330454
Crawford326844
Carroll326553
Benton325756
Boone318636
Mahaska282754
Dickinson276547
Kossuth257471
Clay255629
Jackson253844
Tama246073
Hardin244547
Buchanan244238
Delaware240143
Cedar228025
Fayette227945
Page225724
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Winneshiek219237
Hamilton216752
Harrison205476
Madison199920
Clayton199758
Floyd195742
Butler191936
Poweshiek188837
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Iowa185927
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Jefferson178238
Lyon178041
Calhoun172213
Hancock170336
Winnebago170131
Cass164356
Louisa161651
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