Local woman receives liver transplant during COVID pandemic

Hospitals need nurses badly and are offering big bonuses
Posted at 5:47 PM, Oct 09, 2020
and last updated 2020-10-16 13:20:20-04

BOISE — Lori Waldemer Lord was diagnosed with an autoimmune disease at age 30. Over the last 17 years, her condition worsened.

"It got hard to function every day, and my main doctor told me it was probably time to talk with a transplant team," said Lori.

Preparing for a liver transplant is tough enough, but Lori had to prepare during the pandemic.

"I knew if I got sick, I couldn't get my transplant, so I did everything possible, and I really think that during this time, it made things easier for me because we all were taking extra measures to be careful," said Waldemer Lord.

While COVID-19 has pressed pause on specific procedures and doctor appointments, it's had the opposite effect for transplants at Intermountain Healthcare. The medical team that performed Lori's transplant is set to perform double the number of transplants they did in 2018, and they've seen increasing numbers with Idaho patients.

"For us, we've had an increase in the number of transplants, and that's because other programs had a decrease in the number of transplants during covid, sometimes because of the surge and sometimes because of other reasons," said Dr. Richard Gilroy, the medical director for liver transplants at Intermountain Healthcare.

COVID-19 screenings are required for both the patient and the donor. A transplant cannot happen if the recipient gets covid. Intermountain health care also updated its producers and offered virtual appointments.

"If we stopped transplanting people more people die," said Gilroy, "if we have more donors and more people willing to donate, more people live, we cannot break that part of the cycle."

A week after the surgery, Lori was out of the hospital and feeling great.

"I feel like I'm back in my twenties," said Lori.

She also shares one last reminder: be a donor if you can.

"Without the sacrifice of donating, I wouldn't have a second chance at life," said Lori.