Organ transplants down 60% due to coronavirus restrictions


The number of donor organ transplants in the Netherlands has fallen by over 60% since the start of the coronavirus pandemic, putting patients’ lives at risk.

The number of transplants since the introduction of the corona measures has gone down from 130 to 30 compared to the same period last year, figures published on Wednesday by the Dutch association for organ transplants NTS show.

The number of organs from dead donors plummeted while organ donations from living people came to a halt completely.

The organs of only eight dead donors, could be used compared to 22 last year, the figures said.

The NTS stopped the procedures because the chances of infection were too great, both to the recipient of the organ and the doctors performing the operations. Some 40 people a month will donate an organ, usually a kidney, said.

Donors have to be tested and it can take up to 24 hours to get results, surgeon and medical adviser to the NTS  Michaël Kuiper said earlier. ‘That is a long time for people whose loved one is brain dead.’

The time frame for testing is also be crucial to recipients, Kuiper said. ‘Someone who needs a new kidney can have alternative treatment but a person whose liver stops suddenly can only be saved by a transplant. The same is true for heart and lung failure.’

The NTS has said that if the number of ICT beds keeps increasing then more transplants can go ahead. It is not known how many people died for lack of an organ due to the coronavirus restrictions.

New law

A new Dutch donor law will come into effect on July 1 to combat the lack of organ donations. If people do not actively object to being a donor they will be automatically supposed to be willing to provide organs upon their death. Relatives can still stop the use of organs if they are very sure the person did not wish to donate.

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