Organ Transplants Face Unprecedented Issues in the Age Of COVID

According to a recent article at Medical XPress, the number of intensive care units around the world overwhelmed by critically ill patients suffering from COVID-19 leaves organ transplant patients with fewer places to go.

Organ Transplantation

You may need an organ transplant if one of your organs has failed. This can happen because of illness or injury. When you have an organ transplant, doctors remove an organ from another person and place it in your body. The organ may come from a living donor or one who has died.

The organs that can be transplanted include

  • Heart
  • Intestine
  • Kidney
  • Liver
  • Lung
  • Pancreas

You often have to wait a long time for an organ transplant. Doctors must match donors to recipients to reduce the risk of transplant rejection, which can happen when your immune system attacks the new organ. If you have a transplant, you must take certain drugs for the rest of your life to help keep your body from rejecting the new organ.

Racing Against the Clock

Time has always been an important factor for organ transplants. From the moment an organ donor passes away, the clock begins to run. Doctors must keep the organ donor artificially alive in order to extract the organ while it is still viable. Once extracted, the organ is sealed away and starts its journey to the next hospital where the recipient is waiting.

The COVID-19 Takeover

COVID-19 brought an influx of patients to ICUs, which are vitally important for transplant surgeries. Donors are identified in ICUs, and this is where they are kept alive on machines before their organ is taken out. Furthermore, this is the place where organ transplant patients spend a few days after transplantation to monitor how their body responds to the new organ.

Because of ICUs being filled by COVID-19 patients, the number of organ transplant procedures has fallen by 20 percent over the past year. ICUs are struggling to keep up with the unprecedented numbers of patients coming in every day, and patients who need transplants are concerned over how they will be able to get transplants in the midst of the continuing pandemic.

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