With the mounting concerns regarding the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak, many residents have questions about the impact on organ and tissue donation and transplantation. To help offer some insight and guidance, below we have key information from our area and links to additional resources. We’ll continually post updates here as this crisis develops.
The Waitlist Can’t Wait
Updated April 2
We are actively working to plan for and to mitigate any impacts of COVID-19 on our mission to save lives. Waitlist candidates’ illnesses do not pause and they continue to need lifesaving transplants. To ensure the ability to continue adequate medical evaluation and care, we’ve instituted a Surge Plan in collaboration with our medical partners. These steps, along with the transfer of donors to our stand-alone recovery center, will minimize impact on hospitals and ensure the gift of life continues. Accelerated COVID-19 testing has been established for all organ donors, reducing delays and allowing us to expedite cases as much as possible.
Donor Alliance’s mission is to save lives through organ and tissue donation and transplantation. The need for transplantable organs is an ongoing public health crisis; nearly 2,000 people in our area are waiting for a lifesaving transplant right now.
The waitlist can’t wait, even as the world grapples with the COVID-19 pandemic. That is why Donor Alliance remains committed to maximizing all donation opportunities, while keeping our staff, recipients and community safe.
The Federal Government has classified organ transplants as essential, non-elective surgeries, which must continue even amidst the threat of this virus. The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services recently reiterated the critical nature of access to life-saving organs and requested all donor hospitals continue allowing organ procurement personnel into donor hospitals to facilitate the gift of life.
Given the critical and life-saving nature of organ transplant, Donor Alliance is working closely with state and local governments, donor hospitals and transplant centers to ensure this essential medical service continues without interruption.
COVID-19 is Currently a Medical Rule-out, but Exposure Does Not Prevent Future Donation
With no existing treatment or cure, active COVID-19 is currently a medical rule out for both organ and tissue donation. However, like with many other illnesses, medical science is likely to change that over time and exposure to the novel coronavirus is not expected to be a rule out in coming years. Please do not rule yourself out. If you support organ, eye and tissue donation, please sign up to be donor and let the medical professionals determine eligibility at that time.
The decision to utilize donor organs ultimately rests with transplant surgeons who manage complex decisions around patient care.
Precautions We’re Taking at Donor Alliance
Updated April 2
Critical supplies and protective equipment has been secured and provided to essential staff. While we continue to limit the number of staff accessing hospitals using virtual approach and assessment where possible, our staff continues to facilitate the gift of life on-site.
To protect the health and safety of our teams and transplant recipients through this pandemic, Donor Alliance is testing every donor, maximizing virtual work, limiting the number of staff accessing hospitals and providing as much protective equipment as possible.
Donor Alliance has and always will adhere to the highest medical standards. We will continue to follow our local hospitals’ infection prevention guidelines, which address COVID-19, as we monitor the outbreak. We are also following guidelines and recommendations from the CDC, local public health agencies and the transplantation community, accessing and adapting to any issues posed by COVID-19. This includes the screening and testing of donors or potential donors that could have contracted COVID-19.
All In-Person Initiatives Have Been Cancelled Through April 30
As the COVID-19 virus continues to grow as a public health concern, we want to ensure that we do our part to limit the spread of the virus and keep you safe. As such, we are canceling all in-person programs, projects, and events until April 30. All activities beyond April 30 are currently moving forward as planned.
National Donate Life Month Will go Virtual
This year, Donate Life Month will be fully digital and we are excited to unveil our Show Your Heart with an Act of Kindness campaign. We encourage everyone to use this opportunity to share the message that organ and tissue donation is ultimate act of kindness with our community through social media.
All Donor Alliance Facilities Are Closed to the Public and Non-essential Personnel Through May 3
All non-essential Donor Alliance personnel will be working remotely until May 3. We will continue with business as usual and can be reached through email or phone.
Though we are making changes to Donate Life Month, our day-to-day operations have not stopped. Our clinical teams and hospital partners are continuing to work tirelessly every day to deliver the gift of life to those in need. Donor Alliance has and always will adhere to the highest medical standards and is working closely with state and local agencies to assess and adapt to any issues posed by COVID-19.
COVID-19 Information and Resources
- United Network for Organ Sharing information regarding COVID-19
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC): Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19)
- The American Society of Transplantation: COVID-19 information for transplant recipients, candidates and professionals
- The Association of Organ Procurement Organizations (AOPO): COVID-19 Bulletin
- Organ Procurement and Transplantation Network (OPTN): Information for transplant programs and OPOs regarding 2019 Novel Coronavirus
- American Association of Tissue Banks: COVID-19 Updates
- State of Colorado Information on the Outbreak of Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19)
- Wyoming COVID-19 Info & Updates
- Wyoming Department of Health
The American Society of Transplantation has published a Transplant Community FAQ resource providing detailed information for transplant recipients regarding COVID-19 (coronavirus and organ donation / tissue donation). As more information becomes available, the document will continue to be updated. Local transplant centers can also be used as a resource for recipients that have questions in Colorado and Wyoming.
Follow Recommended Centers for Disease Control (CDC) Precautions, Including:
• Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds; especially after going to the bathroom, before eating, and after blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing. If soap and water are not readily available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol.
• Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
• Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.
• Stay home when you are sick, and keep your children at home when they are sick.
• Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash.
• Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces using a regular household cleaning spray or wipe.
As we learn of any new developments and as new resources become available, we will post updates here.
Ways to Help During the Coronavirus Crisis:
- Help Colorado Now – volunteer or provide donations to help at-risk individuals get through the COVID-19 crisis
- Feeding Colorado – supports five food banks in Colorado
- American Red Cross – Mile High Area – help support disaster leadership throughout Colorado and Wyoming
- Wyoming Food Bank of the Rockies – provides food to those in need throughout Wyoming
- Help Main Street! – enter your zip code and find local businesses who have a way to help while they are closed / partially open
- Colorado COVID Relief Fund – provide aid to support Colorado communities and organizations affected by COVID-19
- Cheyenne Relief Fund – supports residents of Cheyenne, WY in need of assistance
- One Fair Wage Emergency Fund – supports restaurant workers, deliver workers, drivers and other tipped and service workers who are signed up across 10 states, including Colorado