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Quick Dose: How Does COVID-19 Affect Organ Transplantation?

Special Considerations During the Pandemic

Patients who need organ transplants have underlying medical conditions and are therefore at a higher risk of developing severe illness from COVID-19. However, the mortality rate from these underlying illnesses, for example cirrhosis of the liver, is far higher than the mortality rate from COVID-19.

Patients who have had a transplant or are awaiting a transplant are also at higher risk of severe COVID-19 illness due to immunosuppression treatment. This treatment lowers the activity of the body’s immune system so that it doesn’t reject the donor organ. It is vital to the success rate of organ transplants, so patients who don’t have COVID-19 will continue to receive immunosuppression treatment. The only instance when a physician would reduce or stop these medications is if an infection occurs.

Your physician and care team are dedicated to your safety during the pandemic. If you have concerns about transplant surgery due to COVID-19, talk to your physician.

Dr. Caicedo is the director of the Hispanic Transplant Program at Northwestern Memorial Hospital, the only known program of its kind in the country. A team of more than 40 bilingual surgeons, physicians, social workers, a financial coordinator, a clinical research coordinator and other support staff offer patients individualized, culturally sensitive care.

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