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COVID-19 Frequently Asked Questions

The Health Resources and Services Administration’s (HRSA) Division of Transplantation (DoT) is monitoring the impact of the coronavirus (COVID-19) public health emergency on organ procurement and transplantation.

FAQs

Where can I learn about COVID-19 vaccination guidance for moderately and severely immunocompromised people, including transplant recipients and patients on the transplant waiting list? 

COVID-19 vaccine guidance for people who are moderately and severely immunocompromised is available on the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) website.

How can I maximize my chances of transplant success during the COVID-19 pandemic?

Patients on the transplant waiting list should adopt a healthy lifestyle that includes good nutrition, regular physical activity, and abstaining from alcohol and smoking. Patients can decrease their risk of COVID-19 infection by wearing masks, avoiding contact with individuals with COVID-19 infection, and physical distancing as recommended by the CDC.  Patients should also get vaccinations recommended by their transplant hospital, including the COVID-19 vaccine and booster, given that their immune system is drastically suppressed. Find a COVID-19 vaccine near you. Talk to your physician or transplant hospital if you have questions about listing or transplant criteria. HRSA does not track which vaccines are required by transplant centers.

Are organ donors tested for COVID-19?

All organ donors are tested for COVID-19 infection (and a variety of other illnesses and diseases) prior to donation. 

Can someone who had or currently has COVID-19 still donate?

People who have recovered from COVID-19 infection can be organ donors. People who have COVID infection are not generally considered as donors, but in some rare cases, transplants from COVID-positive donors have been performed. These have taken place in limited numbers and on a case-by-case basis after careful assessment of the risks and benefits by clinicians and potential recipients.

Should I sign up as an organ donor during the COVID-19 outbreak?

We encourage you to sign up online through your state donor registry if you are not already a registered organ donor. Signing up means that someday, you could save lives.

Are organ transplants taking place during the COVID-19 outbreak?

Each transplant program must continue to weigh the risks and benefits of transplanting an individual candidate against other risks, including the potential for acquiring other illnesses. Each transplant program must also consider the staff and resources available to provide transplant services in addition to other healthcare services.

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) issued guidance (PDF - 257 KB) that identified organ transplants as Tier 3b procedures that should not be postponed. CMS also recommended (PDF - 573 KB) that hospitals continue to provide organ procurement organization (OPO) staff access to hospital facilities for deceased donor organ recovery.

Should organs be used from donors who test positive for COVID-19?

Consistent with clinical guidance from the American Society of Transplantation, The Transplantation Society, and the Association of Organ Procurement Organizations, the OPTN does not recommend transplantation of organs from donors known to have the virus. This guidance may change as more becomes known about the course and treatment of COVID-19.

Donation and transplant clinicians should apply their medical judgment in instances where test results are pending at the time of organ offers.

What if COVID-19 transmission from an organ donor to a recipient is suspected?

Transplant programs are required to report any suspected transplant-related disease transmissions, including COVID-19, to the OPTN and the CDC. This enables the collection of data at a national level to share with the organ transplant community.

Can certain organ transplant candidates be temporarily inactivated as a result of COVID-19 issues?

A transplant program may choose to temporarily inactivate organ transplant candidates if, in the transplant physicians’ medical judgment, certain candidates cannot or should not currently receive organ offers as a result of COVID-19 issues. Transplant candidates with questions may contact the OPTN patient services line.

Where can I learn more about the impact of COVID-19 on blood stem cell donation and transplantation?

Information that may be useful for patients, donors, and others in the blood stem transplantation community are on the National Marrow Donor Program (NMDP) Be the Match webpage, a HRSA contractor, entrusted to operate the C.W. Bill Young Cell Transplantation Program.

Additional Resources

Learn more about the care of transplant candidates and recipients, as well as the screening of potential organ donors at risk of COVID-19, from the following organizations:

View HRSA's COVID-19 Resource Page for more FAQs

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