CHICAGO (CBS) — As vaccines help open the world around us, freedom for one Kankakee woman hinges on a different medical miracle.
CBS 2 Morning Insider Lauren Victory took us inside the wait for a transplant during the pandemic.READ MORE: 'I Just Wanted To See My Grandma': Suburban Chicago Teens Help Peers Get COVID Vaccine Appointments
“I am waiting for a heart/bilateral lung transplant,” said Brittani Bury. She’s been on hold for a better life since she was born with congenital heart defects.
Bury has spent the past month inside Northwestern Memorial Hospital, fingers crossed for her next step. A GoFundMe has been set up for her post-transplant expenses.
“Within the next ten minutes, they could come in,” she said.
Tashiana Smith, who was waiting for a pancreas and kidney transplant when she got the exciting news last July, wasn’t sure her transplant call would ever come.
“There was times, where – not even going to sugarcoat it – where I wanted to give up,” she said.
Her dread of dialysis suddenly started to lift when she was placed on the transplant waiting list for a new kidney and pancreas in February 2020.READ MORE: Chicago Weather: Dry And Quiet Pattern
A few weeks later, “That’s when COVID like really hit, and I’m like, ‘Wow. So how long are they going to push my transplant back?’ You know? Everything just stopped.”
Not everything. The transportation of life-saving organs dipped briefly in April, with everyone staying home, but by the end of 2020 an organ donation record had been shattered.
Great news, with room for improvement.
Imagine the stress when a package literally holding the gift of life goes missing or gets delayed.
“There’s all these different ways that organs move, and each one has its own … its own risks,” said Casey Humphries, program manager at UNOS Labs, an experimental incubator that works on projects to improve the transplant system and increase the number of transplants performed.
In a time when we can track our online orders, follow our food deliveries, and watch for our rideshares in real time, knowing the exact location of an organ in route to a sick patient hasn’t been possible until now.MORE NEWS: Man Lost Everything As He Waited On Callback From Illinois Department Of Employment Security That Never Came
On Thursday night at 10, CBS 2’s Victory explains problems encountered during the transport of donated organs – and a solution that’s in testing to fix them; how the results could impact life-saving transplants in our area.