Indiana Donor Network, hospitals, working to keep transplant recipients safe

Posted at 7:09 PM, Mar 31, 2020
and last updated 2020-03-31 19:14:20-04

INDIANAPOLIS — Live saving surgeries, like organ donations, won't stop at Indiana hospitals because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Richard Waltman is on the list to get the heart and kidney transplants he needs and was worried the pandemic could prevent him from getting these life saving surgeries.

"I'm just worried what this means for the hospitals transplant programs," Waltman said.

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The federal government has classified organ transplants as essential surgeries, meaning those waiting for one shouldn't worry.

Steve Johnson, the chief operating officer for the Indiana Donor Network, says the network is working with state hospitals and the Indiana State Department of Health to make sure donors are able to get COVID-19 testing.

"We certainly don't want to pass on a virus to someone who is immunosuppressed as a recipient," Johnson said. "That is a very dangerous thing, so we are really looking out for those recipients."

He says the network is working to make sure the testing is effective and done properly to help prevent more COVID-19 deaths.

The time from when a recipient gets a call about a match to the surgery starts is very short, making it crucial for donors to get tested and the results quickly.

Acension St. Vincent tells RTV6 its modified its post-transplant process to include virtual consultations and are monitoring those on the donor recipient list to help keep them from coming in contact with the virus.