KUALA LUMPUR, June 2 — US patients face longer waits for organ transplants amid a decrease in organ donations and transplant procedures decreased during the Covid-19 pandemic.
Healthline reported Dr Silas P. Norman, an associate professor of internal medicine and director of the transplant ambulatory care unit at the University of Michigan, had raised concern about the drop in organs available for transplant, especially during the pandemic.
“We know that everybody on the transplant waiting list is at an increased risk of mortality.”
“So any delay or decrease in access for those patients can really be a life or death matter,” he said.
Furthermore, Dr Norman also expressed worry about kidney failure patients who have to visit a dialysis centre three or four times a week, as they are being exposed to the coronavirus while traveling.
“Many of our patients don’t have the option to just be at home. They’re going to be exposed to a number of people repeatedly during the week, so their risk (of Covid-19) is increased,” he was quoted saying.
Healthline reported that the living donor programme was also affected in the US. A living donor means a person who is still alive donates an organ or portion of an organ to another person whose organ is no longer functioning properly.
Hospitals with organ transplant centres in the US also face challenges like shortages of personal protective equipment (PPE), ventilators and ICU beds, and health care staff.
“There are people who are motivated to donate. But they may have looked at the current Covid-19 situation and thought, ‘Well, I’m not going to go to a transplant centre right now to be evaluated,’” Dr Norman added.
He also said that organ transplant programs in the US could take several months for them to ramp back up and keep people safe at the same time.
“A lot of our patients are used to the idea that being on the waiting list to get a transplant often has lots of ups and downs,” said Dr Norman.
“We reinforce to our patients that this is one of those challenging situations that we will work through as a team, with an eye toward getting people transplanted,” he mentioned.
The Covid-19 pandemic caused a steep drop in organ donation and transplant procedures in the US and France, The Lancet reported.
Data obtained from Public Health France, the National Organ Procurement Agency and the United Network for Organ Sharing shows a strong temporal association between the increase of Covid-19 infections and a striking reduction in overall solid-organ transplantation procedures.
The overall reduction in deceased donor transplantations since the outbreak was 90.6 per cent in France and 51.1 per cent in the US, respectively.
This reduction was mostly driven by kidney transplantation, but a substantial effect was also seen for heart, lung, and liver transplants.
According to the World Health Organization’s study in 2017, a total of 139,024 organs were transplanted annually all over the world.