Transplant From Deceased COVID Patient Was a Success

Kidney was taken from 30-year-old woman who died from COVID complications
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Feb 2, 2022 1:50 PM CST
Transplant From Deceased COVID Patient Was a Success
Potential donor organs from COVID patients are usually discarded.   (Getty Images/gpointstudio)

Surgeons say they have successfully transplanted an organ from a patient who died from COVID-19 complications, potentially opening the door to many more such transplants. Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine researchers, writing in the American Journal of Transplantation, say a kidney was taken from a 30-year-old woman who died last year after she was hospitalized with "severe COVID-19 pneumonia." She ended up on life support and was eventually declared dead from lack of oxygen to the brain. Three days before her death, the woman tested negative for COVID. Researchers say they tested tissue from the kidney and from a blood vessel that often has high levels of the virus, CTV reports. All the tests came back negative and the organ recipient tested negative 20, 30, and 60 days after the operation.

The donor kidney went to a man in his 50s. The patient, who had end-stage kidney disease and had been on dialysis for more than five years, was fully vaccinated and tested negative before the operation, the Hill reports. Researchers said that nine months after the operation, he is off dialysis and has excellent kidney function. "We know our case may not be representative of many possible COVID-19 donors, particularly since the donor was negative for COVID-19 at the time of transplantation," said report author Dr. Hamid Rabb, medical director of the Johns Hopkins Kidney Transplant Program, per a press release.

But it shows that "organs can be individually considered for kidney transplant instead of being routinely discarded," says Raab. "What distinguishes this case from others is the fact that we studied the donor kidney by using pre-transplant biopsy samples to investigate the presence of the virus," said study author Dr. Kyungho Lee. Rabb said the surgeon who performed the transplant informed him that an organ had become available but other centers had turned it down because the woman died from COVID complications. (More coronavirus stories.)

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