What We're Reading: Coronavirus Deaths Exceed SARS; Trump Delays Kidney Dialysis Rule; Lost, Delayed Lifesaving Organs

February 10, 2020

The reported death toll of the coronavirus in China has exceeded that of the SARS crisis from 17 years ago; the Trump administration delayed a signature healthcare initiative aiming to increase dialysis at home and transplants for US kidney patients; nearly 170 organs could not be transplanted due to transportation issues on commercial flights.

Coronavirus Death Toll Surpasses SARS

Yesterday, the coronavirus death toll surpassed that of the SARS outbreak from 17 years ago, totaling 908 reported deaths in China in the last month compared with 774 deaths in the SARS crisis, according to The New York Times. China’s Health Commission announced the highest number of deaths in a single day related to the virus on Sunday, with 97 reported deaths. So far, only 2 deaths have occurred outside China.

Trump Delays Kidney Dialysis Rule

The Trump administration delayed a signature healthcare initiative that would boost the number of US kidney patients who undergo dialysis at home and get transplants, according to The Washington Post. The move comes amid resistance from kidney doctors and large dialysis companies who cited a potential reduction in payments from the Medicare system. The plan was originally supposed to take effect on January 1, 2020, but now its timetable remains unclear.

Trend of Lost, Delayed Lifesaving Organs for Transplant

In an analysis on the trend of lifesaving organs being lost or delayed following shipment on commercial flights, nearly 170 organs could not be transplanted and almost 370 endured near misses, with delays of 2 hours or more linked to transportation problems. Kaiser Health News reports that transplant surgeons across the United States have stressed that they lost the chance to transplant otherwise usable kidneys due to these transportation issues. “We’ve had organs that are left on airplanes, organs that arrive at an airport and then can’t get taken off the aircraft in a timely fashion and spend an extra 2 or 3 or 4 hours waiting for somebody to get them,” said David Axelrod, MD, transplant surgeon at the University of Iowa.