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One Year Later: Answering the Top Five Questions on COVID-19 & Organ Donation

March 2021 marks one year of saving lives through organ and tissue donation and transplantation amidst the COVID-19 pandemic.

Since the onset of the pandemic, we’ve received many questions relating to the impact COVID-19 has on donation and transplantation. We compiled a list of the top five most frequently asked questions and answered them, below.

Top Five Questions on COVID-19 & Organ Donation:

  1. Can I sign up for organ donation even if I had COVID-19? Yes! Even if you tested positive for COVID-19 at some point, you can still sign up to be an organ, eye and tissue donor after death. Recovered COVID-19 patients may be eligible for organ donation at the time of their death. It’s important to remember that anyone of any age or with any kind of medical condition or history can still sign up to be a donor. Don’t rule yourself out! Sign up in Colorado or Wyoming
  2. Can someone be an organ and tissue donor if they died from COVID-19? Right now, no. If someone passes away from active COVID-19, it is currently a medical rule out for both organ and tissue donation. It’s important to note that as with many other illnesses, medical science is likely to change that over time. (Note, this is different from Question 1, which speaks to who can sign up to be a donor. This questions speaks to donation eligibility upon passing away from active COVID-19 specifically).
  3. What precautions is Donor Alliance taking to ensure safety and prevent exposure? To protect the health and safety of our teams and transplant recipients throughout this pandemic, Donor Alliance is testing every donor, maximizing virtual work and limiting the number of staff accessing hospitals. All eligible donors are tested for COVID-19 through molecular testing, known as PCR (polymerase chain reaction) tests that detect the virus’s genetic material. This type of testing method is cited as highly accurate by the Center for Disease Control (CDC).
  4. Did COVID-19 cause a stop in transplants? Organ and tissue donation and transplantation continues. With nearly 2,000 people in our area waiting for a lifesaving transplant, the need for transplantable organs is an ongoing public health crisis in our region and nationwide. 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 that must continue. For information on living donation specifically, please contact one of the four transplant centers in our area for more information as they facilitate that process.
  5. Should transplant recipients receive the COVID-19 vaccine? We encourage transplant recipients to connect with their transplant center care team for guidance with their individual situation. The American Transplant Foundation also released a webinar on COVID-19 vaccines and the transplant community. You can also check out the latest COVID-19 Vaccine FAQ Sheet from the American Society of Transplantation.

As new information about COVID-19 is released, we continue to regularly update our resources and information as it relates to donation and transplantation. New information is often accompanied by questions or concerns. If you ever have any questions, please contact us. You can also follow us on our Donate Life Colorado or Donate Life Wyoming Facebook pages for current news and inspiring stories about donation and transplantation.