Transplant centers across the country are having to assess surgeries on a case-by-case basis during a global pandemic. In South Florida, the Miami Transplant Institute of Jackson Health System is postponing living-donor transplants until the COVID-19 pandemic has passed.
Luke Preczewski, vice president of MTI, said they are still performing deceased organ transplants, but again on a case-by-case basis as doctors evaluate a patient’s health and what risks they face undergoing a transplant during the coronavirus outbreak.
"Transplants are listed in the highest urgency category procedures that need to continue and that reflects that, although, of course, we know that there are some unknown risks related to COVID-19, we already know very well the substantial risks of patients who are waiting for organ transplants," Preczewski said via a video call Tuesday. "Without a transplant, some of them will not survive till the pandemic subsides."
The Miami Transplant Institute also as of now has the necessary personal protective equipment needed to move forward with those transplants, Preczewski said.
"The Jackson Health System procurement department is doing a tremendous job of continuing to keep us supplied under these very very trying circumstances," Preczewski said. "Now, we are all worried about that obviously there are national shortages. So far in the transplant institute, we have not found ourselves in a situation where we are unable to provide the personal protective equipment that we need for our staff. We are trying to conserve it like everyone else cause we know that there are shortages."
As far as organ transportation goes, Preczewski said, for the most part, kidneys continue to move on commercial flights and most other organ transports are done through charter flights. He said they have not seen any issues with being able to receive organs at this time.
"We have a relationship with the primary charter flight company that's able to work with us, and other folks around the country have those relationships as well. Most kidneys do fly commercial. Right now they continue to," he said. "The organs that do become available now are needed to save lives, and we can't put them on a shelf and store them until after the pandemic, either."