Covid-19: Are transplant patients at a higher risk?

Dr Sandeep Attawar

Chennai: The world is shaken up with Covid-19 and healthcare workers are working round the clock. While the healthy ones are affected and can recover, the ones who have pre existing conditions or are critical are worse hit.

“If your immune system is compromised, you need to be extra careful to avoid any kind of exposure to the coronavirus. And this is more common in patients who have had an organ transplant,” says Dr Sandeep Attawar, program director and chair of Heart and Lung Transplant Programme, Gleneagles Global Health City.

“While we do not have any studies that claim Covid-19 could be more severe in transplant patients, there are risks of it infecting anybody; therefore, it is better to take precautions,” he says.

“I understand that if you’ve recently had a transplant, or scheduled for one very soon, you must have a lot of questions and doubts about the risks that Covid-19 may cause you,” he says.

According to Attawar, “continue to take all of your medications on time, as prescribed, unless and until you are instructed otherwise by your doctor. Make sure you have an extra supply of your medications available to avoid any shortage during the lockdown. Keep in touch with your doctor, inform them if you feel any kind of discomfort due to your medications or other reasons.”

“Should I delay my transplant?” To this question, he says, “If you are in critical need of a transplant, it should not be delayed. However, the doctors will have to make sure that your potential donor doesn’t have any risk factors suggestive of the coronavirus or any other infection. If they, by any chance, show even the slightest risk, the doctors may not use that donor, in such cases, the transplant may have to be rescheduled until you find a new healthy donor.”

On travel restrictions for transplant recipients, he says, the coronavirus was labeled a pandemic by the WHO on 11 March 2020, which means it has spread across and has affected most parts of the world. Traveling in times like these is highly risky. You may get infected and spread it to a number of other people around you, without knowing it. It can be a big risk. Therefore, try and restrict your travel, especially to places that are highly infected.


NT Bureau