Organ transplant impact due to COVID-19, El Paso County Commissioner kidney transplant rescheduled

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Since the pandemic hit, many organ transplant and recipients have been having to wait longer than expected. That's been the case for El Paso County Commissioner David Stout.

EL PASO, Texas (KTSM) — A non-profit organization said the waiting list for organ transplants has not decreased amid the pandemic and urges people to consider donating to help fasten the process.

Since the pandemic hit, many organ transplant donors and recipients have been having to wait longer than expected. That’s been the case for El Paso County Commissioner David Stout.

“We’d be able to go on camping trips and go canoeing, go fishing, take trips, and travel. Do whatever he planned as he decided to retire,” Stout shared.

Stout is back on the waiting list to donate one of his kidneys to his father, an operation which should have happened in April, now postponed to July. He said without the surgery, his father could have to go through dialysis as soon as August or September.

“We’re talking about 3 more years of life, quality of life hindered greatly, or 10, 12, 15 years of life where he would be able to function like a normal person,” Stout explained.

For the next two months, Stout said he and his father, who lives in Colorado, have to be extra careful to not contract the virus.​

“It could be that if you have contracted it within a couple of weeks before the surgery and you come the week before and you test positive for it, the surgery is going to be canceled and it’s going to have to be postponed,” Stout shared, “It may be up to 6 months that we have to make you wait. It’s kind of nerve-wracking and difficult to deal with.”​

Southwest Transplant Alliance (STA), a non-profit assisting Texas with life-saving organ transplants, said looking out for staff, recipients, and donors is a top priority during this time.

“Some of our service areas, we’re starting to move the organ donors from where there’s a large number of COVID patients so that those donors and organs subsequently are not exposed,” Patti Niles, President/CEO of Southwest Transplant Alliance told KTSM.

STA said there are currently over 10,000 Texans on a waiting list, which is why they’re calling for more donations. ​

“Up to 8 people’s lives will be saved through organ donation. That’s with two lungs, your heart, two kidneys, liver, and beyond that, it can have an impact up to 50 people through tissue donation so your legacy would go on and you can really outlive yourself for many years to come,” Niles shared.

KTSM reached out to Las Palmas Del Sol Medical Center in regards to its Kidney Transplant center, and a spokesperson with the hospital sent this statement:

“Like other hospital programs, the temporary suspension of non-emergent surgeries and procedures during COVID-19 limited our kidney transplant abilities. We have been able to perform a reduced number of transplants during this time. We have continued to provide care for patients who are currently awaiting transplants.

Las Palmas Medical Center is testing all patients who are scheduled for an invasive procedure or surgery for COVID-19. If a patient tests positive, the surgery or procedure is postponed until it’s deemed safe for our care team and the patient to proceed under CDC guidelines.” 

For more information on STA and about organ transplants/donations click here.

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