Something not many people think about during these crazy times is how much the coronavirus pandemic has impacted organ donation.  During the pandemic, the number of organ transplants fell tremendously, according to a recent study. COVID-19 has consumed our medical resources in several countries.

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According to CNN, the number of organ donor transplants dropped in early April by 51.1% in the United States when compared to March, a month earlier. This recent study, published in The Lancet medical journal, combined organ procurement data from federal agencies in the United States and France. It shows that heart, lung, and liver transplantations have seen substantial reductions but kidney transplantations had the greatest decrease.

With the transplant patients' weak immune systems, there must be an increased effort to ensure the donors aren’t infected with the disease. This is one reason for the reduction. Another is said to be that possibly there aren’t enough resources in terms of staff and medical equipment to care for the patients after a transplant. The researchers did say that there wasn’t a definite and clear association between the lower numbers of donation and the COVID-19 hotspots.

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In a recent Forbes article, Arthur Caplan and Helen Irving expressed their thoughts. Arthur Caplan is a bioethicist at NYU Langone Health. Helen Irving, is the CEO of LiveOnNY, an organ procurement organization that covers New York City and surrounding counties. They say that social distancing has also been part of the reason for a drop in organ transplants. Although more people are dying in New York than usual, social distancing means fewer people are passing away in car accidents or other trauma-related injuries.  Irving also says that COVID-19 patients are automatically ruled out for organ donation because of the fact that they could pass on the virus to the transplant recipient.

Living donor organ transplants obviously can be rescheduled for a future date, but can you imagine the scary thoughts going through the minds of those on the donor waiting list that are in their final stage? The ones that wait on the list which was already a timely process, and now adding the pandemic to the scenario.

In the United States, there are approximately 40,000 patients that receive an organ transplant every year. There are 120,000 patients that remain on the waiting list with 7,600 patients dying annually while they are waiting for their transplant.

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According to Louisiana Organ Procurement, 2019 was the best year for organ donation in Louisiana. They facilitated the transplant of 754 organs that were gifted from 233 donors. Healing tissue was recovered from 436 donors. Those gifts will restore health and enhance the lives of thousands. LOPA also recovered 102 organs not suitable for transplantation and those gifts are being used for research and medical advancement.

Now more than ever, we need people to register to become an organ donor. Register as an organ, tissue, and eye donor at www.donatelifela.net. Thank you to all registered donors. And thank you to all of the heroes and their families.