COVID-19 ISO Insights

CDC: Monitoring COVID-19 Risk From Donated Organs

January 4, 2021

By: Christopher Sirota, CPCU

Based on some preliminary research, experts have been reportedly concerned that COVID-19 might be transmitted from a donated organ.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has published an early release of a study that analyzed organ transplant data from March to May 2020.

According to the release, previous studies revealed the presence of viral particles in organs from patients that had died of COVID-19. As such, those studies indicated that transmission via organs was "plausible." Currently, experts reportedly still consider the "risk for SARS-CoV-2 transmission from extrapulmonary organs of asymptomatic infected deceased donors to organ recipients" to be unknown.

In hopes of learning more, a new study reportedly examined data from 31 organ transplants from eight donors that occurred during the pandemic and which included eight recipient patients who were subsequently diagnosed with COVID-19.

According to the release, experts further investigated data about the donors and the recipients where the recipient patients tested positive for COVID-19 after transplant surgery. Per the release, experts concluded that the infection in each case was not from the donated organ but likely from exposure in the community or from a healthcare facility and that there was no knowledge of the deceased donors having COVID-19 symptoms or having been in contact with any person with such symptoms.

The release explains the results as follows:

Among the 8 index recipients [those testing positive for COVID-19 symptom], 4 received lung, 2 received liver, and 2 received heart transplants. The median age of index recipients was 65 years (range 37–75 years); the median duration from organ transplantation to symptom onset was 9 days (range 6–81 days). Seven (88%) index recipients experienced fever or lower respiratory tract symptoms. Seven index recipients required mechanical ventilation; 3 of them (2 liver recipients and 1 lung recipient) died. All index recipients had potential or confirmed community or healthcare exposure to persons infected with [the COVID-19 virus] SARS-CoV-2.