‘He was giving one more gift’: Man, 98, believed to be oldest US organ donor

12 June 2024, 18:44

Organ donor Orville Allen hugging his great-grandson
Organ Donor Age 98. Picture: PA

Orville Allen was a veteran of the Second World War and the Korean War.

A 98-year-old man may be the oldest American to ever donate an organ, according to transplant organisations.

Orville Allen lived a lifetime of service, and when he died he had one last thing to give: his liver.

Mr Allen was a veteran of the Second World War and the Korean War and a longtime educator in Missouri. He died on May 29 and his liver was successfully transplanted into a 72-year-old woman, according to Mid-America Transplant.

He was in robust health until he suffered a fall while picking up storm debris at his home in Poplar Bluff on May 27, his daughter, Linda Mitchelle, said.

He struck the back of his head and was flown to St Francis Medical Centre in Cape Girardeau.

Swelling around Mr Allen’s brain could not be healed. As the family was preparing to say goodbye, hospital staff had a question: Would they consider donating his liver?

Given Mr Allen’s age, it was a question that caught the relatives by surprise. But surgeons had examined him and determined the organ was acceptable for transplant.

Knowing their father’s nature – always the first to check in on people, always at the doorstep of a neighbour in need – the siblings did not hesitate.

“It turned it from being such a sad loss of our dad to having this little ray of joy because he was doing what he’d done all his life,” Ms Mitchelle said. “He was giving one more gift.”

Previously, Cecil Lockhart, of West Virginia, was the oldest person to donate an organ upon death, according to the Centre for Organ Recovery and Education, which co-ordinated recovery of his liver. He was 95 when he died in 2021, and his liver was successfully transplanted to a woman.

Orville Allen holding his great-granddaughter at her baptism
Orville Allen holding his great-granddaughter at her baptism (Linda Mitchelle via AP)

More people than ever are getting new organs, according to data from the United Network for Organ Sharing (UNOS), a non-profit organisation that has run the transplant system under a government contract for nearly four decades.

Last year was a record year for donations from the deceased – more than 16,000 – and for the number of organ transplants performed (more than 46,000), according to UNOS. Liver transplants topped 10,000 for the first time ever.

Mr Allen was a pilot in the Army Air Corps in the Second World War, then served in artillery communications in the Army 1st Cavalry Division in the Korean War. After the wars, he spent 27 years in the Army Reserve, retiring as a lieutenant colonel.

He also farmed and taught vocational agriculture at Neelyville High School, near Poplar Bluff, for nearly four decades. He and his wife of 70 years, Geraldine, who died in 2019, had three children, three grandchildren and six great-grandchildren.

He never got around to signing up to be an organ donor, but the family said they hope his story spurs more people to register.

In fact, they said, it already has.

“A whole bunch of people at the visitation and funeral who were former students and friends said, ‘You know what? I’m going to put donor on my driver’s licence right now’,” Ms Mitchelle said.

Greg Allen, one of Mr Allen’s sons, said the ability to donate their father’s organ was uplifting in an otherwise sad time.

“To me, it’s just a wonderful thing to be able to help somebody else, anybody else, to extend their life for their family,” he said.

By Press Association

Latest World News

See more Latest World News

Kamala Harris has praised Joe Biden

Kamala Harris pays tribute to ‘unmatched’ legacy of Joe Biden, as Nancy Pelosi backs her with ‘unlimited optimism’

Anand Runwal jumped in front of the train to try to save his children

Pictured: Hero father who jumped in front of train to try to save his twin daughters, whose pushchair rolled onto tracks

Girl, 11, plunges 65ft to her death after 'wandering onto seventh floor balcony' of Majorca hotel as relatives slept

Girl, 12, plunges 65ft to her death after 'toppling from seventh floor balcony' of Majorca hotel as relatives slept

Donald Trump thinks Joe Biden never had Covid

Trump claims Biden 'never had COVID' and the president wanted to ‘get out’ ever since pair clashed at debate

Nigel Farage described Joe Biden as "incompetent"

Nigel Farage says Joe Biden is ‘past his sell-by date’ and US election is all but ‘lost’

The tragedy happened at Carton railway station in Sydney, Australia

Father and toddler killed after pram carrying twins hit by train after falling onto tracks

Live
Vice President Harris Holds Campaign Event In Maryland On Anniversary of Roe v. Wade Being Overturned

Follow live: Top Dems back Harris and donations surge after Biden quits race

Joe Biden quits 2024 US presidential race and endorses his VP Kamala Harris

Kamala Harris promises to do 'everything in her power' to defeat Donald Trump after Joe Biden drops out of race

Starmer praises Joe Biden's 'remarkable career' as leaders react to president quitting  2024 US presidential race

Starmer praises Joe Biden's 'remarkable career' as leaders react to president quitting 2024 US presidential race

President Biden Addresses The Nation From The White House Oval Office

Joe Biden quits 2024 US election as it happened: President Biden backs VP Kamala Harris as Trump hits out at 'unfit' leader

Biden withdraws from US presidential race

Joe Biden has endorsed Vice President Kamala Harris as Democratic Presidential nominee

Joe Biden quits 2024 US presidential race and endorses Kamala Harris - as Trump labels him 'unfit to serve'

Joe Biden quits 2024 US presidential race and endorses Kamala Harris - as Trump labels him 'unfit to serve'

The 152nd Open - Day Four

American Xander Schauffele crowned The 152nd Open Champion as he finishes -9 to win in Royal Troon

Sarah Justine Packwood, 54, and her husband, Brett Clibbery, 70.

Mystery as Brit woman and husband attempting to cross Atlantic found dead in lifeboat one month after going missing

Donald Trump spoke at a rally for the first time since he was shot in the ear

Donald Trump says he ‘took a bullet for democracy’ at first rally since assassination attempt

A series of Israeli strikes have been launched against the Houthi-controlled port city of Hodeidah in Yemen

Israel launches series of air strikes on Houthi-controlled city in Yemen day after group claim deadly attack on Tel Aviv