Covid-19 recovered can donate organs, say experts

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A team of doctors from different hospitals across the country including Hyderabad and Secunderabad has successfully demonstrated that people, who have recovered from Covid-19, can donate their organs, particularly kidneys. There were no cases of infection in either the donors or the recipients.


The team was involved in as many as 31 kidney transplants across 19 transplant centres in India. Doctors from Virinchi Hospital, Hyderabad, and Yashoda Hospital, Secunderabad, were part of the transplant team. Indian doctors successfully carried out kidney transplantation when Covid-19 cases were at their peak in the country and many experts around the world hesitated to take up the transplant fearing a high risk of infection.

“There was no Covid-19 clinical presentation or diagnosis in any recipient in this study with median follow-up of 44 days,” said Dr KS Nayak, senior nephrologist, Virinchi Hospital, who was part of the transplant and research team. The result of the study was published in the science journal, Transplantation.

Dr Nayak, who is also a visiting professor at the Renal Research Institute, New York, told TOI that the study had supported the feasibility and safety of kidney transplants from Covid-19 recovered living donors. The study said their approach would provide the greatest value in resource-limited, low-and middle-income countries and in countries where alternative treatment of dialysis access is limited and mortality on dialysis is higher, which becomes much higher if they become Covid-19 positive.

Stating that the risk of getting coronavirus from living organ donation is low because most of the donors were asymptomatic at the time of testing and those with mild disease were symptom free for 28 days with two negative PCR tests, the researchers said it was safe to proceed with a living donation for asymptomatic individuals after following all the Covid-19 protocols. The protocols include two negative PCR tests including a negative PCR test close to donation surgery, two weeks significant social distancing and hand hygiene before surgery. The doctors also followed the guidelines of the American Society for Transplantation (AST) and The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE).

“Our study also shows that carefully selected kidney donors with asymptomatic and mild Covid-19 status can be managed at home with favourable outcomes like kidney transplant recipients. This supports home treatment is feasible for mild Covid-19 potential kidney donors with relevance to countries in the developing world,” said Dr Nayak, who was elected president of the International Society of Blood Purification.

The study revealed that there was no nosocomial (hospital) transmission to healthcare workers or the donor-derived transmission to the recipient. Patient and graft survival was 100% respectively.


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