Organ donation slow during pandemic
ANCHORAGE, Alaska (KTUU) - In 2019 alone, 39,718 people received organ transplants in the United States according to the Health Resource and Services Administration. But this year, COVID-19 has slowed these donations dramatically.
“The number of organ donors from deceased donors is down about 3% for the same period in 2019. The number of transplants from living donors who usually donate one of their kidneys is down about 30% in the same period so we have seen somewhat of a decrease in transplantation procedures, more so in the living donors than the deceased donors,” Kevin O’Connor, executive director of Life Center Northwest, said.
O’Connor’s company works to procure organs. When a health care worker identifies a donor candidate in Alaska, Montana, Idaho or Washington, they contact Life Center who then oversees the donation process from talking to the families to the retrieval.
O’Connor says COVID-19 has impacted every aspect of their operation. If a person tests positive for the virus, they are no longer a donation candidate. Other impacts include many patients waiting for transplant delaying their operations due to increased risk for contracting the virus while in the hospital. O’Connor also points out with many people hunkering down, high-risk behavior has decreased as have the number of deceased donors.
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