A considerable decline in the number of organ transplants since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic in France and the US
As the COVID-19 health crisis began in France, organ transplant program managers expressed concern about the continuation of organ transplant activity during the epidemic. There were two major reasons for this: the significant workload on healthcare systems to manage COVID-19 patients and the increased risk of infection for the transplant patients, who are already immunocompromised. The recommendations were to maintain only urgent transplants, including heart and liver transplants, where hospital organizations allowed it.
A team from the Paris Transplant Group (from the University of Paris, Inserm and AP-HP), in collaboration with American researchers, evaluated for the first time the effect of the COVID-19 pandemic on organ procurement and transplantation worldwide. Today, the Lancet publishes their study: https://www.thelancet.com/journals/lancet/article/PIIS0140-6736(20)31040-0/fulltext.
Based on data collected from French and American health agencies, the research team highlighted the link between the COVID-19 epidemic and organ transplantation. The evolution over time of the number of COVID-19 infections compared to the number of organ retrievals and transplants in France and the United States thus shows :
While the number of COVID-19 cases and deaths in France and the US were on the rise, researchers have seen a dramatic decrease in organ procurement and transplantation in both countries. Some of these transplants can be life-saving for patients, particularly in the case of livers or hearts. These unrealized transplants represent a loss of potential transplants with organs from deceased donors. These resources, so precious and so eagerly awaited by thousands of patients, will not be recoverable after the COVID-19 health crisis.
"The results of this study could be useful to public health agencies, learned societies and patient advocacy organizations both in strategic planning and risk minimization considerations, particularly for certain areas that are still relatively unaffected by the COVID epidemic. They also help quantify the loss of organ transplant opportunities and assist in strategies for resuming transplant activities after the epidemic peak," says Dr Christian Jacquelinet, co-author of the study published in the Lancet and a public health specialist at the Agence de la Biomédecine and Inserm.
"Using the example of organ transplantation, a highly regulated procedure with a daily activity monitoring system in France and the US, this study illustrates how an epidemic can impact critical medical activities, with immediate consequences for vulnerable patients," says Prof. Alexandre Loupy, lead author of the study and Director of the Paris Transplant Group Inserm U970 research team, also from the University of Paris and a nephrologist at the Necker Enfants Malades Hospital.
Paris Transplant Group
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