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Organ Donors In Demand In South Florida, As Waiting List Grows

Dr. Rodrigo Vianna speaks at an event in January that celebrated the Miami Transplant Institute performing more organ transplants in 2019 than any other hospital in the U.S.
Jackson Health System
The Florida Channel
Leon County Judge John Cooper on June 30, 2022, in a screen grab from The Florida Channel.

Transplants from both living and deceased organ donors are back on at the Miami Transplant Institute after a partial hiatus of living-donor donations because of the pandemic. Still, the Institute faces a persistent problem: not enough organ donors.

You turn to WLRN for reporting you can trust and stories that move our South Florida community forward. Your support makes it possible. Please donate now. Thank you. More than 112,000 people awaiting transplants around the country are in need of a donated organ, but finding the right organ for the right recipient can be tricky and you only have so much time. 

"Before that organ goes to trash, basically, nobody is going to use it, they call us," said Dr. Rodrigo Vianna leads the Miami Transplant Institute, an affiliation between Jackson Health System and the University of Miami Health System. Those calls usually come from organizations that work a bit like an old-school matchmaker, figuring out who needs what, where.

"And they say, look, this already has been turned down for a lot of centers, you know, they don't believe they could be good. Would you guys be interested?"Last year the Institute performed more transplants than any other hospital in the U.S. but Vianna says they could still do more if more people were willing to be donors, even upon death. "People don't think about this until there's somebody close to you that needs one, and then you're like, 'Oh my God, why are people not donating?' Well, you know, you're also not donating until somebody close to you needs one," he said. Vianna also says people who need transplants shouldn't avoid hospital treatment because they're afraid of a coronavirus infection. Having failing organs puts you at higher risk of infection on its own.

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Verónica Zaragovia