Quick Dose: How Does COVID-19 Affect Organ Transplantation?
Special Considerations During the Pandemic
Updated April 2022
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 does not reject the donor organ.
Getting vaccinated against COVID-19 is a vital way to help protect yourself if you have an underlying medical condition and need an organ transplant or are on immunosuppressant treatment after receiving a transplant. If you belong to one of these groups, refer to this table from Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) for guidance on COVID-19 booster vaccines.
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 offers patients individualized, culturally sensitive care.