Are transplant patients at a higher risk for coronavirus?

At this time, we do not have specific information on whether coronavirus infection will be more severe in transplant patients. Other viruses often cause more severe disease in people whose immune system is low, such as transplant patients.

If you are a transplant patient taking immunosuppressants, you are likely at higher risk for serious illness if you come in contact with the coronavirus.  Immunosuppressant medicine weakens your immune system so that your body is less likely to reject your new organ. However, a weakened immune system also makes it harder for your body to fight off infections.

As a transplant patient, there may be other factors that put you at higher risk for coronavirus. For more information, see the CDC’s full list of groups of people that are at higher risk.

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Are organ donors at higher risk for coronavirus?

At this time, we do not have specific information about whether living donors are at higher risk for coronavirus.

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How are transplant centers affected by the coronavirus outbreak?

Some transplant centers are still performing transplants. Others are closed and have decided to postpone transplants until sometime in the future. A list of the leading transplant centers and their current status can be found online. You should call your transplant center or check their website for the latest updates.

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Why is my transplant center closed?

Because living-donor kidney transplants need two hospital beds and recovery care in the hospital, some transplant centers may put living-donor transplants on hold. This saves the hospital beds coronavirus patients and other emergencies.

In addition, it may be safer for the recipient to wait to be transplanted until the risk of infection from coronavirus is lower.

Right now, many hospitals do not have enough ventilators to both address deceased donor transplants and care for coronavirus patients at the same time.

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What do I do if my transplant is rescheduled or postponed?

If your transplant is rescheduled or postponed, the most important thing to do now is continue your dialysis treatments and avoid contact with anyone infected with the coronavirus or with anyone who has had contact with people in public spaces.

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Can I get a kidney from someone who has had coronavirus?

If the living donor you are considering has coronavirus, talk to your transplant team. The transplant team will decide whether your living donor is still a good candidate for organ donation after they are no longer sick.

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Can I get a transplant if I have COVID-19?

For your safety, your transplant team will probably postpone your transplant until you are no longer sick. After you are well, your transplant team will evaluate your readiness for transplant.

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If I have had coronavirus, can I still donate a kidney?

If you have had coronavirus doctors will have to determine if you are still a good candidate for donation after you are no longer sick.

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Should people still be screened for kidney donation? Or should I wait?

Many centers are now doing virtual (video or phone) evaluations of potential kidney donors in order to still move the donation process forward.

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Can I get coronavirus from a deceased kidney?

The risk of getting coronavirus from a deceased donor is low because most organ procurement organizations (OPOs) are testing deceased donors for coronavirus. ATS does not recommend that OPOs use of organs from deceased donors who have coronavirus or classify as high-risk after being tested.

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Can I get coronavirus from a living donor?

The risk of getting coronavirus from living organ donation is low because living donors are tested for coronavirus symptoms and exposure history, including travel. Living donors who have been to high-risk areas or exposed to someone who has or who is being tested for coronavirus are generally being asked to postpone donation for 14 to 28 days after travel or exposure. Also, living donors are being asked to not travel to high-risk areas for at least 14 days before donation and monitor for symptoms. ATS does not recommend the use of organs from living donors who have coronavirus or classify as high-risk after being screened.

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What should I do about my medications?

Immunosuppressive medications may place transplant recipients at higher risk for contracting COVID-19, but it’s important to continue taking all medications as prescribed unless a physician suggests otherwise. The CDC recommends practicing safe social distancing and hand washing, disinfecting surfaces regularly and following local stay at home orders. Try to keep a 1-month supply of emergency medication at all times and contact a physician with specific questions or to refill necessary prescriptions.

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