Covid disease damage leading to 'completely new category' of organ transplants

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Hospitals grapple with a growing group of patients whose organs — most often hearts and lungs — are 'basically destroyed by the virus'

to treat the sickest Covid-19 patients. Too little was known about the risks of the virus and the lasting damage it might cause, let alone whether such patients could survive the surgery. Buchanan was turned down at Emory University Hospital in Atlanta, said his wife, Melissa, who said doctors advised her to withdraw treatment and allow him to die peacefully.

Nearly 60 transplants were performed through March 31 for patients with Covid-19-related organ disease, according to figures released Monday by the United Network for Organ Sharing, which oversees transplants in the U.S. They include at least 54 lung and four heart transplants since new codes for Covid-19-specific diagnoses were adopted in late October. One patient received a combination heart-lung transplant.

Tens of thousands of patients whose organs were otherwise healthy have developed severe, chronic lung disease after having contracted Covid-19. Because it's a novel disease, exactly how many will go on to need lung transplants isn't yet clear, said Weill, who has called for the development of a lung transplant registry to track outcomes.for organs. Of the more than 107,000 patients on waiting lists, about 3,500 need hearts and more than 1,000 need lungs.

Brown, who had hit the gym regularly, was an ideal candidate, said Dr. Sean Pinney, a co-director of the heart and vascular center at University of Chicago Medicine. "This guy was healthy except for Covid, except for heart failure." Brown received his transplant in October and continues to recuperate.

Even then, not everyone is eligible for a transplant. In many Covid-19 patients, damage isn't limited to a single organ. Others have pre-existing conditions that can complicate recovery from surgery or preclude it entirely, such as diabetes or obesity. And, often, those who have been sedated for weeks or months aren't likely to survive the trauma of transplant.

Source: Healthcare Press (


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