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Donated organs not being used as hospitals scale back transplants for COVID-19

Last Updated Mar 30, 2020 at 3:56 pm EST

Toronto General Hospital in Toronto is shown on Thursday April 5, 2018. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Doug Ives

OTTAWA — Transplant centres across the country have massively scaled back organ transplants as hospitals try to make sure they are able to accommodate COVID-19 cases.

Hospitals are reserving ventilators, spaces in their intensive care units and operating rooms for only the most urgent transplant needs.

Dr. Atul Humar, past president of the Canadian Society of Transplantation, says that means many organs are tragically not going to good use.

He says aside from freeing up resources, hospitals have also slowed down transplants for the health of transplant recipients.

After surgery the patients are put on drugs to suppress their immune systems so they don’t reject their new organs, putting them at serious risk if they come into contact with the virus that causes COVID-19.

Organs that are transplanted in urgent cases are being screened for COVID-19 so they don’t infect recipients.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 30, 2020.

The Canadian Press