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First-of-its-Kind Center for Life Thrives for Organ Donation Amidst the COVID-19 Crisis


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24/7 Center Allows for Organ Donation Recovery Services While Alleviating the Need for Hospital Resources

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Texas Border Business

Joseph Nespral

McALLEN, Texas — July 8, 2020 — During the ongoing COVID-19 crisis, Texas Organ Sharing Alliance (TOSA), the organ procurement organization that provides organ donation and recovery services in Central and South Texas, announced that the opening of the Center for Life (CFL) at University Hospital in San Antonio has played a key role in recovering and transplanting 109 organs to patients in need of a life-saving organ transplant. Two of those organ donors came from hospitals in the Rio Grande Valley.

Recently, families consented to organ donation at McAllen Medical Center and McAllen Heart Hospital. Both donors were flown to San Antonio for the donation process and were returned home for their funeral services.

“The initial plans for the Center for Life were to focus on San Antonio-area hospitals first, but as the coronavirus pandemic continues to have a big effect on many of our hospital partners, we saw this as the right time to begin transferring donors across our donor service area,” said TOSA President & CEO Joseph Nespral. “We want to help these hospitals as much as we can as they focus on treating their patients.”

While some hospitals across the nation struggle to provide ventilators, hospital beds and available operating rooms to facilitate organ donation, the CFL alleviates the need to use valuable hospital resources with its specialty care staff and dedicated space. 

The suite is a collaboration between TOSA and University Health System that officially opened in February and started working with donors to save lives just as COVID-19 was named a pandemic. The CFL helps to remove the burden from area hospitals as they manage their facilities in the new normal.

“The CFL has helped save more lives by providing all the resources necessary to care for patients in one place, streamlining the donation recovery process and optimizing the gifts given by our heroic donors,” said Nespral.  

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CFL Benefits during COVID-19

  • 13,000-square-foot facility has three state-of-the-art organ donor management areas, two operating rooms, a tissue recovery suite and a research lab all dedicated to the recovery of organ and tissue
  • Dedicated medical personnel to care for donors
  • Expedited recovery times means more lives saved
  • As of July 8, there have been 29 organ donors at the specialized center
  • 15 of the donors signed up on the Donate Life Texas state registry
  • 109 organs provided life-saving transplants thanks to the generosity of donors and their families

Organs recovered at the CFL will continue to be provided to recipients based on criteria established through the national organ waiting list. The difference is that more organs will be recovered, reducing the long wait for many patients who need help. 

Nationwide, 113,800 people are waiting for a life-saving organ transplant, including more than 10,000 Texans. A single person has the power to save eight lives as an organ donor and improve the lives of 75 others through tissue donation. Sign up today at www.DonateLifeTexas.org.

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