Lifesaving organ and tissue donation remain a priority in La. amid COVID-19 outbreak

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COVINGTON, La. (KLFY)– The Louisiana Organ Procurement Agency (LOPA) has announced that they continue to make organ and tissue donation a priority in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic.

“We are making adjustments to ensure the safety of all potential recipients and staff, including optimizing our Donor Care Center (DCC) and testing organ donors for COVID-19,” said officials with the organization.

“With three separate ISO-8 certified recovery suites, a three-bed Donor Care Unit, and state-of-the-art diagnostic equipment, the DCC eases the burden on hospital resources while still honoring the wishes of donors and their families to give the gift of life through organ and tissue donation.”

According to CEO Kelly Ranum, LOPA’s leadership had the forethought to build a stand-alone care center as a way to maximize donation, allow for a safe and timely donation process, and provide an environment where the highest level of care and sensitivity is given to each and every donor.

“Our new headquarters is the best move forward to care for donors and our partner hospitals, who often are strained for bed space even under normal circumstances,” said Ranum.

“The lessons we learned from hurricanes and floods went into our planning, and our preparation will ensure we provide a safe environment for our staff, our transplant partners, our donors and the recipients,” she added. “Whenever possible, we will transfer donors to the DCC within a few hours of starting the donation process.”

LOPA’s DCC was completed in late 2018 as one of only 10 such medical centers in the nation.

Ranum noted LOPA also works with laboratory partners to test for any transmissible diseases that could be harmful for transplant recipients, including COVID-19.

“The safety of transplant recipients, transplant staff, hospital employees, LOPA staff, and the broader community are our top priority. We are testing all potential organ donors for COVID-19, and any who test positive will not be a candidate for donation,” she said.

“We are also screening the travel history of all potential donors to identify those who may be at higher risk for exposure. This information is shared with the transplant center when an organ is offered to a potential recipient.”

There are over 112,000 people waiting for a life-saving organ transplant, and over 2,000 just in Louisiana.

“The opportunity for donation is so rare, we can’t afford to stop our work and wait for this crisis to pass,” Ranum said, “or the lives lost will be compounded.”

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