Northeast's organ transplants plummet amid coronavirus outbreak

ByYun Choi WPVI logo
Tuesday, May 12, 2020

Pennsylvania (WPVI) -- Federal data shows COVID-19 has been impacting non-COVID patients waiting for an organ transplant, as well.

According to data from the United Network for Organ Sharing (UNOS), a non-profit in partnership with the federal government, organ transplants in the northeastern United States are down by over 60 percent since the coronavirus outbreak, compared to the same period last year. That drop is much bigger than the national average of 32 percent.

Since March 15, fewer than 300 organ transplants have been performed in the nine-state region. During the same period last year, more than 700 transplants were performed.

In early March this year, the cumulative count of transplant procedures since January was higher than last year's, but now is lower. At this period last year, over 1,700 transplants had been performed. This year, slightly more than 1,300 transplants have been performed so far.

Living donor transplants have dropped more sharply than deceased donor transplants. While deceased donor transplants dropped by 55 percent, living donor transplants have plummeted by 95 percent. Since March 15, only seven living donor transplants have been performed in the region.

The drop is largely because many kidney transplant candidates have been temporarily inactivated from the waitlist since medical experts found kidney transplant recipients having a much higher risk of dying from COVID-19. In the Northeast alone, more than 2,300 candidates were temporarily removed from the waitlist since the outbreak. Nationwide, nearly 9,000 were removed during the same timeframe.