Organ transplants move forward in Indiana during COVID-19

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INDIANAPOLIS — Indiana hospitals have been working under a new normal. For transplant teams, there’s an added step to make sure organ donations are safe.

Since Indiana’s first confirmed coronavirus case on March 6, there have been 35 organ donors and 131 organ transplants.

CBS4’s Beairshelle Edmé is speaking one man who received his kidney in the middle of a pandemic.

“She came down. She saw me for 2 minutes before surgery,” described, Adam Crozier of Auburn. “She saw me 5 minutes after the surgery and went home until I was released from the hospital because that’s all she could do.”

For better or worse, in sickness and health, usually means you’re there every step of the way for your spouse.

“It really limited, limited support, I suppose,” he said.

Crozier had a kidney transplant on April 24, one day before his birthday. In the middle of pandemic and on one of his life-changing days of his life, his wife could only be there for 7 minutes.

“My nephrologist just said, ‘Hey, it’s time!’ We waited as long as we could,” he explained.

His kidneys had been failing since 6th grade, but with several drugs and procedures, Crozier managed his kidney failure, until this year.

“I knew (the call) for sure wasn’t going to come for a little while ’cause — we had been sort of advised they weren’t doing any kidney transplants or many for a few weeks,” he detailed.

Even though the federal government made transplants essential, when the coronavirus hit, some Indiana hospitals temporarily stopped them. Organ recovery coordinators, like Emily Martyn, needed to evaluate COVID-19’s impact on a potential donor.

“I think initially there was some uneasiness with everyone going into hospitals,” Martyn told FOX59.

Quickly, there have been changes to the day-to day process, including more testing so that patients, like Crozier, can get an organ transplant.

“It’s standardized. Every donor is tested for COVID-19 and UNOS kind of changed how we report infectious diseases to include COVID-19 on that report,” she explained.

A person has to test negative to donate, and only 1 organ recovery coordinator is at the hospital to minimize staff at the facility.

There’s also no on-site coordinator for recovering patients, instead a post-op video is played for them.

“I don’t know what it’s like obviously when its not a pandemic, but in my opinion, it went really smooth and happy with how it went given the circumstances,” Crozier said.

The Indiana Donor Network wants to reassure Hoosiers on the waiting list that transplants haven’t slowed down.

In fact, they’ve gone from a 24 to 48 hours recovery turnaround to 12 hours with these new protocols.

If you’re looking for more information about becoming an organ donor or recipient, visit here.

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