KANSAS CITY, MO (KCTV) -- Tyler Reimer has a rare blood cancer which damaged his liver. He now needs a transplant.
He’s already been waiting for two years and knows he will have now wait even longer.
“Most days are okay. Every now and then, I have a really bad day with stomach aches and I battle with nausea. I feel tired and run down but I have to keep going and do the best I can,” Tyler Reimer said.
Reimer and other patients are keeping a close eye on changing policies.
Donated organs used to stay local, then plans shifted to regional sharing.
Earlier this year a new policy expanded those sharing circles to a 500 nautical mile radius.
The University of Kansas Hospital and other transplant programs have been openly critical of the changes saying moving organs around the country doesn’t address the main problem-there aren’t enough donors.
“Just last night an organ donor became available. In our area, we would be number 1 this time our patient was 11 or 12 on the list,” Dr. Timothy Schmidt said.
The available organ traveled 500 miles away to another patient.
Dr. Schmidt says early data shows local liver transplants have dropped by 50%.
He’s advising patients that their wait times will now double and they will need to be sicker to move up the waiting list.
Tyler Reimer and his doctor both expressed concern that organ allocation programs won’t get needed attention because everyone’s focus is solely on coronavirus.
Reimer understands the importance of both issues.
His wife Cindy is a nurse now battling coronavirus.
She was recently hospitalized and moved to the critical care unit.
Reimer is talking about both medical issues with his children.
“It’s okay to have feelings and it’s not fair those were the cards we were dealt,” said Reimer.
Last year, 39,719 people received transplants. But more than 112,000 people are still waiting.