Experts says that hearts that can safely use in transplants from donors who died of Covid-19. Donor hearts from people with COVID-19 prove to be very safe for transplantation when is the case without COVID-19. We got it according to a short-term analysis given at the American Heart Association’s 2022 Scientific Sessions. The analysis comprises data referring to the first 84 heart transplant recipients from COVID-positive donors in the United States.
Study author Samuel T. Kim at the David Geffen School of Medicine said that these findings suggest that we might be more proactive in accepting COVID-19-positive donors when patients urgently need an organ for a heart transplant.
We came across the guidelines leveled by ‘The American College of Cardiology, the American Heart Association, and the American Heart Failure Society’ for treating heart failure cases in 2022. Further, they advise ‘heart transplantation’ for people who progress to ‘advanced heart failure (stage D).’ People with stage-D heart failure have unbearable symptoms, like shortness of breath, fatigue, and swelling. Such symptoms interrupt daily life. Further, it can lead to recurrent hospitalizations despite optimal medical treatments.
There is an increased need for the said operation. Kim recalled that despite the said fact, there is a continuing shortage of donor organs available to people needing transplants. The COVID-19 pandemic has made matters worse with an increase in rates of donors testing positive for testing for COVID-19. It renders donors ineligible for transplantation typically. However, several academic centers have begun using hearts from COVID-19-positive donors for heart transplants in the last few months and have reported good results.
The researchers analyzed the United Network for the ‘Organ Sharing database.’ The analysis took place for all the adult – heart transplants in the United States between February 2021 and March 2022 in the above study. It included the first 84 donor heart transplants positive for COVID-19 among 3,289 total heart transplants.
The researchers looked at rates of death in hospital or within 30 days of the operation, postoperative complications, and death from specific causes, such as infections and pulmonary complications, which we know as known concerns for people who have had COVID-19. They compared outcomes up to 30 days after transplants safely between patients who received hearts from COVID-19 died donors.
Further, they also verified the cases of those who received hearts from COVID-19-negative donors.
The analysis concluded that the differences in transplant outcomes between the groups were not statistically significant. Thus, it found that both group recipients of donor organs had similar hospital death rates. Further, they experienced the same 30 days after the transplant and similar rates of complications, such as graft failure. It is a condition in which the body rejects the new organ and causes pulmonary complications.
The median hospital stay for those who received a heart from a donor with COVID-19 was 15 days. It is so when we compare it with 17 days for patients who obtained a heart from a donor without COVID-19. Organ rejection occurred in 2.4% of recipients from COVID-19-positive donors versus 1% of others, and 96.1% of people who received hearts from COVID-19-positive donors survived the first 30 days, compared with 97% of those who received ‘virus-free’ hearts from donors. Not even a single case among the four patients died after receiving a heart from a COVID-19-positive donor died on account of respiratory causes or infections.
The researchers admit to being surprised by the results. Kim admits that we thought death from respiratory or lung-related causes would be a problem among recipients acquiring hearts from donors with COVID-19. However, we found no such differences. The study offers early evidence that hearts from donors with COVID-19 may be fully safe compared to hearts without COVID-19 for heart transplantation.
Dr. Eldrin. F. Lewis and Simon H. Stertzer said that those findings show that outcomes were similar 30 days post-transplant among patients who received hearts from COVID-19-positive donors. Hence, the potential risks appear to be less than expected.
They also added that this might help address the shortage of donor’s hearts for transplantation and reduce waiting times. People often become sicker as heart failure progresses when they wait for a donor heart to become available.
The authors point out that the small sample size limits the impact of the study. The analysis may have little power to detect differences in experiences of heart transplants, so they add that longer-term studies are needed to evaluate the transplants safely, the outcome of patients receiving hearts from COVID-19 died donors beyond 30 days post-procedure and the rate of early graft failure.