Kidney transplants plummeted during the pandemic, patients’ lives depend on them increasing again

ATASCOCITA, Texas – At first glance, you would think Sean Wilburn is a healthy, happy person. It’s hard to believe he goes home at the end of the day to commit to a night (9 hours) on an at-home dialysis machine.

“If I don’t hook up to it by 9 p.m., I’ll be late to work,” Wilburn points out that he wouldn’t have time to complete dialysis by the time he needs to be at work in the morning. “I’m grateful for the fact that it’s keeping me alive…. But it’s a lot.”

It is indeed a lot of hurting and waiting for about 2,800 Black Texans on the kidney transplant list.

Minorities actually make up the majority of that list.

In Texas, more than 45% of the 10,000 people on the kidney transplant waiting list are Hispanic and more than 25% are Black.

Many patients die waiting for those organs and during the pandemic, it’s gotten even worse.

Nationwide, transplant centers were only doing 50 operations a month, down from 600 before the pandemic started, according to Houston Methodist Hospital.

This is not an elective procedure. So, the decrease in operations is extremely discouraging for people who are clinging to the transplant list, waiting for a donor in order to stay alive.