LOS ANGELES--(BUSINESS WIRE)--As the nation and the world adjusts to the realities brought about by the coronavirus, OneLegacy continues its work as an essential healthcare provider by collaborating with local hospitals, transplant centers and families to enable lifesaving transplantation. OneLegacy is the largest independent organ, eye and tissue recovery organization in the world.
“Since its first reported occurrence on Jan. 21, 2020, there have tragically been an estimated 110 COVID-19 deaths in the U.S.,” said OneLegacy CEO Tom Mone. “Over this same period of time, 1,188 people have died while waiting for an organ transplant, while more than 5,000 lives have been saved through transplantation. For this reason, OneLegacy clinical professionals are continuing to respond to, assess, support families, manage donors and recover organs for transplant from our hospitals amidst the COVID-19 challenge.”
Supporting this lifesaving and essential purpose, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) yesterday issued a guideline that identifies transplantation as a “Tier 3, High Acuity Surgery, Do Not Postpone” procedure.
Continuing this lifesaving work has required modifications to practices to prevent contagion and to ensure the health and safety of recipients, family members and healthcare staff. Mone says that these changes will continue to evolve but currently include:
- Any donor or patient with confirmed COVID-19 is not a candidate for donation. This is consistent with the current recommendations by The Transplantation Society, Infectious Disease Section; American Association of Tissue Banks; and Eye Bank Association of America.
- All potential organ donors are being tested for the virus via the nasal swab PCR testing technique. OneLegacy is being supported in this testing by its colleagues at Children’s Hospital Los Angeles and by its contracted laboratory, Eurofins Viracor in Kansas City.
- The travel history of all potential donors is evaluated to identify those who may be at higher risk of exposure. This information is included in the organ offer information provided to transplant teams who determine whether to accept an organ for transplant. Advice from a Transplant Infectious Disease physician is recommended on a case-by-case basis.
“The international efforts to contain the virus have required significant changes in the lives and practices of millions of people, schools and businesses,” said Mone. “We are working with our partner hospitals and transplant centers and their infection control practices to assure the safety of eligible individuals who want to be donors and the many recipients waiting to receive their gift of life.”
Mone says that appropriate precautions have been implemented at OneLegacy itself, including social distancing, increased opportunities and prompts for hand-washing, reduction of meeting sizes to 10 or fewer, video conferencing in lieu of in-person meetings whenever possible, and Personal Protective Equipment for those in direct contact with possibly infected donors. All of this Mone says is designed to “ensure the health and well-being of our employees, donor families and ultimately transplant recipients. By following these precautions, we are able to continue our lifesaving mission and our ongoing stewardship of the gift of donation; and we continue to be committed to providing service to our communities.”
Last year OneLegacy enabled the transplant of 1,619 organs from 557 donors, an increase of 8% over 2018. In addition, the organization reported a 4% increase in tissue donors to 3,005, helping over 225,000 individuals, while sight-saving corneas transplanted increased a remarkable 25% from the prior year to 1,616. These increases were part of a nationwide increase in organ donors that projects to be as much as a 10% increase over 2018’s all-time high. “These increases demonstrate the incredible generosity of our community toward one another,” says Mone. “We believe that same generosity and caring will help us all successfully confront the challenges posed by COVID-19.”
Mone says that despite the record number of people who say yes to donation, the need for transplants is growing far faster than potential donors. “That drives us to help every Southern Californian to choose to register to be an organ donor at the DMV and at donatelifecalifornia.org and to explore the option to be a living donor for a friend or family member,” he says.
OneLegacy is a nonprofit organization dedicated to saving and healing lives through organ, eye and tissue donation in seven counties in Southern California: Los Angeles, Orange, Riverside, San Bernardino, Ventura, Santa Barbara and Kern. Serving more than 200 hospitals, 11 transplant centers and a diverse population of over 20 million, OneLegacy is the largest organ, eye and tissue recovery organization in the world, For more information, visit onelegacy.org, like us on Facebook or follow us on Twitter.