How COVID-19 is impacting organ donations in S.C.

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GREENVILLE, S.C. (WSPA) – Scientists around the world are working to discover more about the new coronavirus including possible lasting affects to internal organs.

According to researchers at Johns Hopkins, data shows that the disease caused by COVID-19 can cause lasting lung damage, complications such as pneumonia and acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS).

This organ damage could lead to an increase in the amount of names on the long list of survivors needing lung transplants.

“We know that all patients who require transplants are in that last moment where it’s a critical need,” Kristine Neal, director of communications at Donate to Life said.

Wuhan scientists released a report in December of 2019 urging officials to thoughtfully consider the urgency of transplants during any endemic spread of COVID-19.

However, officials at Donate to Life, an organization dedicated to saving the lives of South Carolinians awaiting transplants, said the process has been moving along smoothly amid the pandemic.

Officials said right now in the state of S.C. around 1,200 people are waiting for an organ transplant, which is a normal average.

“MUSC has been able to continue providing transplants through COVID-19. We’ve worked very close with them throughout the pandemic and they’ve been able to continue transplants and provide more than they were before,” Neal said.

In order to donate an organ, donors must have a negative COVID-19 test. Neal said all patients are tested to ensure that their organs are viable for a transplant.

Registered donors who pass away from COVID-19 complications will no longer be eligible to donate unless they have a negative test upon death.

“If they’re positive in the moment at this time they are not able to, but things change every day so we ask people not to self-preclude themselves because we want people to be able to register. That determination can be made at the time the person passes away,” Neal said.

For more information about becoming an organ donor, please click here.

Copyright 2020 Nexstar Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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