COVID-19 has been delaying organ transplant surgery in critical patients in India. Dr Joy Varghese of Gleneagles Global Health City in Chennai said that some patients even lost their lives due to the delay. Since the beginning of the pandemic, the demand for organ transplant and the risks associated has gone up. Health professionals reported that donors of lung and heart transplants are extremely hard to come by. While kidney and liver donors can be alive, lungs and hearts can only be acquired from cadaveric donors. It is also hard to ensure that the donor is not infected.
Additionally, every patient must take medicines called immunosuppressants to suppress the body's immune system so that it doesn't reject the new organ. However, low immunity is a risk factor during the pandemic, reported The News Minute.
Dr Joy told The News Minute that the hospital has admitted patients for transplant, but some of them turned out to be Covid-19 positive. Positive patients must be placed in Covid wards until they are well and not at risk of contagion. The patient is supposed to wait until four to five weeks after recovery from Covid-19 to undergo a transplant.
The success rate of liver plants has dropped from 95% to 70-80% as they were admitted to the ICU while waiting for the risk of Covid-19 to lower. Doctors have also reported that the patients who come for transplants are sicker than before.
There are, however, fortunate exceptions. If it is an emergency and the donor is a family member, the transplant can be performed while the patient is Covid positive, said the director of hepatology and liver transplantation.
Experts say that younger patients have a higher chance of recovering from the transplant. However, elderly patients, even those free of Covid-19, are hesitant about a lung transplant and prefer to wait till the pandemic is over. Dr Elan Kumaran, a senior consultant at Cauvery Hospital in Chennai, said that there are risks of life-threatening complications. Additionally, health professionals are at risk of aggression from the patient's family if they do not recover.