LOS ANGELES--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Despite the COVID-19 upheaval, lifesaving and healing organ, eye and tissue donation continues to proceed in Southern California and across the country. As Southern California prepares for the anticipated mid-April peak of COVID-19 cases, OneLegacy is making sure that organ, tissue and eye donation can continue to take place and serve the more than 9,000 local residents waiting for a lifesaving transplant.
OneLegacy is the not-for-profit organ, eye and tissue agency that serves the greater Southern California region, the largest independent donation region in the world.
“We are confronting challenges from transplant centers and donor hospitals that anticipate the need to free up ICU beds, ventilators and staff that are normally used to attend to organ donors and transplant recipients,” says OneLegacy CEO Tom Mone. “As such, we are prepared to transport organ donors to our Redlands Recovery Center, transfer donors to less-impacted facilities, or work with hospitals to recover organs more rapidly than usual in order to help free up hospital beds needed to care for COVID-19 patients.”
Last month the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services issued guidelines that identified transplantation as a “Tier 3, High Acuity Surgery, Do Not Postpone” procedure. To continue its lifesaving work, OneLegacy concurrently announced practice modifications designed to prevent contagion and to ensure the health and safety of recipients, family members and healthcare staff. Since that time, OneLegacy has been working with its partner hospitals and transplant centers to assure the safety of donors and the many recipients waiting to receive their gift of life.
In March, OneLegacy had 58 organ donation authorizations, nearly as many as in each of the prior two months, though authorization rates were down about 5%. Mone says that this decline was “likely influenced by hospital-imposed limitations of family presence in hospitals, which meant less opportunity for our team to meet with family members and discuss the donation process.”
Still, Mone said that OneLegacy remains on track in 2020 to recover nearly 620 organ donors, which would be 11% above its 2019 record number of 557 organ donors that resulted in the transplant of 1,619 organs. These increases are part of a nationwide increase in organ donors that Mone feels “demonstrate the incredible generosity of our community toward one another. That same generosity and caring will help us all successfully confront the challenges posed by COVID-19.
“Even during this unprecedented crisis, donor hospitals and staff have been incredible in continuing to recognize the importance of enabling donation and in fulfilling the wishes of the donor patient,” continues Mone. “To them, donor families, recipients and transplant colleagues we owe a world of gratitude for their continued caring about our community and our world.”
Despite the record number of people who say yes to donation, the need for transplants is growing far faster than potential donors. Currently more than 115,000 Americans are waiting to receive a lifesaving heart, liver, lung, kidney and/or pancreas; and nationwide 22 people die each day while waiting for this second chance at life. “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,” Mone 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.