Pandemic puts even more strain on already struggling transplant wait list

Even before the pandemic, New York has been grappling with a severe shortage of organs, which has killed roughly 500 patients every year. The state is home to one of the longest transplant wait lists in North America.

News 12 Staff

May 21, 2020, 12:18 AM

Updated 1,427 days ago

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The pandemic has added new obstacles to the already difficult process for people seeking life-saving organ transplants.
Even before the pandemic, New York has been grappling with a severe shortage of organs, which has killed roughly 500 patients every year. The state is home to one of the longest transplant wait lists in North America.
Anthony Luisi has been waiting for a new kidney for nearly a year, and he says being in limbo is the hardest part.
"I try to encourage people at the dialysis center. But I'll be honest with you ... on a Tuesday I go in I got somebody next to me. And then on Thursday he's not there, he died. It's affecting a lot of people."
The Bethpage father of four has been fighting to stay positive since News 12 first met him back in February - but that was before the coronavirus hit New York hard, shutting down nearly everything, including organ transplants.
Helen Irving, president of the organization that oversees organ procurement on Long Island and New York City, says COVID-19 is making a terrible problem even worse.
"We're not always able to get all the testing that's needed...we've also had transplant programs that have decided they will only transplant those patients that are critical and may die in the next 48 to 72 hours," says Irving.
In the month of April alone, local transplants were down a staggering 90%, which means many patients have to stay on dialysis longer, while centers across the state are battling a major supply chain problem.
With a lot of odds stocked against him, Luisi can only wait.
"The hope of getting a kidney goes further and further away," he says. "I'm scared, I'm afraid, you know, for all the right reasons."
 


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