A new study shows that it is safe to transplant the heart of a person who tested positive for COVID-19. Based on the research papers of the University of California Los Angeles (UCLA) researchers to be presented at the annual meeting of the American Heart Association (AHA) to be held in Chicago from the 5th to the 7th, the health medicine webzine ‘Health Day’ reported on the 31st of last month (local time). one content.
Transplant surgery for heart failure patients who desperately need a new heart during the COVID-19 pandemic may be delayed. If the donor tests positive for COVID-19, the transplant operation will be delayed. However, if the condition of heart failure patients is severe, some medical centers in the United States have started transplanting these hearts as well.
From February 2021 to March 2022, out of 3289 heart transplants registered in the database of the United States Association for Organ Sharing, 84 received heart transplants from people who tested positive for COVID-19. Then, the progress was compared and analyzed up to 30 days after surgery by dividing the group into a normal heart transplant group and a Corona 19 positive heart transplant group (hereafter the Corona group).
The researchers found that both groups had similar mortality 30 days after transplantation. The survival rate of the general group was 97% and the corona group was 96.1%. None of the four deaths in the Corona group died from respiratory disease or infection.
The average length of hospital stay for patients in the general group was 17 days, but was shorter for patients in the Corona group, 15 days. The rate of organ rejection was 1% in the general group and 2.4% in the corona group.
The researchers expressed surprise at this. Samuel Kim, a third-year student at UCLA Geffen Medical School, who presented the study results, said: “This study is early evidence that the hearts of donors who test positive for COVID-19 are as safe as those of those who do not,” he said.
American heart-related organizations, including the AHA, recommend heart transplantation for patients with stage D heart failure who have difficulty in breathing, fatigue, and swelling due to heart failure. According to AHA statistics, there were 3658 new heart recipients in the U.S. as of 2022, more than doubling from 1,676 in 1988. There are currently more than 3,400 Americans awaiting a heart transplant.
Experts who reviewed the results of the study said, “It is fortunate that the potential risk was better than expected,” but pointed out the limitation of the small number of subjects and said that a long-term study that follows up to 30 days after surgery is necessary. “This study could help address the shortage of donor hearts and reduce waiting times for transplantation,” said Professor Simon Sterzer, head of the cardiovascular department at Stanford University School of Medicine. Study results presented at medical meetings are considered preliminary until published in a peer-reviewed journal.