People who die from coronavirus cannot donate organs

People who die from coronavirus cannot donate organs
Organ recipients and those waiting to receive donated organ during the coronavirus pandemic are facing new challenges. (Source: KODA)

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WAVE) - Organ recipients and those waiting to receive donated organ during the coronavirus pandemic are facing new challenges.

Jon Rohman spends day after day at with his 2-year-old daughter Hadlee, who is in the hospital.

She’s waiting for a new heart.

“Doing as best as I can to be as strong as she is,” Rohman said. “She gives me strength every day just with her attitude.”

More than 112,000 people in the country are waiting for a lifesaving organ transplant. In Kentucky, 950 are waiting for a transplant; 1,300 people in Indiana.

The federal government has classified organ transplants as essential, non-elective surgeries, which must continue even amid the coronavirus crisis. Those who have received an organ deal with weakened immune systems and other issues that transplant doctors say put them at high risk of catching the coronavirus.

“They also often have these co-morbidities like diabetes and hypertension that we worry about as well,” said surgeon Dr. Emily Bugeaud. Like the rest of the country, transplant recipients are urged to stay inside.

As far as how COVID-19 is impacting organ donation, the Kentucky Organ Donor Affiliates said locally we are OK.

“We’ve been fortunate that so far we have not had any negative impact on abilities to make donations and transplantation happen,” KODA representative Brian Roe said.

Long-term, the coronavirus could take a toll on organs that could have been available to recipients. Roe said if someone dies because of the coronavirus, and he or she signed up to be an organ donor, those organs can not be passed on.

Roe said if someone tests positive for the coronavirus and has recovered, doctors will look at that on a case-by-case basis.

“We would talk about each of those cases with our medical director and thoroughly screen those,” Roe said. “The medical director would take those on a case-by-case basis, look at the overall picture and deem if they are appropriate or not to move forward.”

KODA is encouraging that if you aren’t signed up to be an organ donor to do so. You could save someone’s life. KODA has switched a lot of its outreach to online platforms. For more information on organ donation, click here.

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