As local hospitals focus on alleviating the current surge of COVID-19 cases in the region, they have not neglected the need to facilitate organ donations.

In March, the Texas Organ Sharing Alliance, a federally designated organ procurement organization, coordinated organ donations with 29 individuals — two of which, are from the Rio Grande Valley. From the 29 individuals, 109 organs were recovered.

The donors were transferred to the Center of Life at the University of San Antonio, and it was the first time a donor from the region had been sent to that facility.

The organ donations came from McAllen Medical Center and McAllen Heart Hospital. Both donors were flown to San Antonio for the donation procedure, and returned home for their funeral services.

Joseph Nespral, TOSA president and CEO, said the pandemic has sped up the organization’s plans to coordinate organ donations in Austin, San Antonio and the Valley.

“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,” TOSA President and CEO Joseph Nespral said. “We want to help these hospitals as much as we can as they focus on treating their patients.”

According to the Center of Life, about 113,800 people nationwide are waiting for a life-saving organ transplant — 10,000 of which are Texans.

One donor has the ability to save eight lives, and 75 others through tissue donation.

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EDITOR’S NOTE: This article has been updated for clarity.