As a majority of hospitals focused on Covid-19 patients’ treatment during the pandemic surge, the number of solid organ transplants performed during the first wave of pandemic in 2020 plunged by 31 per cent compared to the previous year with kidney transplantation affecting the most in all countries, according to a new global study published in the Lancet Public Health.
Presented at the European Society for Organ Transplantation (ESOT) Congress 20211, the researchers calculated that the slowdown in transplants resulted in more than 48,000 years of patient life loss. Highlighting the widespread impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on health services and patients, the study noted decrease in living donor kidney (-40 per cent) and liver (-33 per cent) transplants. For deceased donor transplants, there was a reduction in kidney (-12 per cent), liver (-9 per cent), lung (-17 per cent) and heart (-5 per cent) transplants.
The research leveraged international data from 22 countries across four continents and revealed major variations in the response of transplant programmes to the Covid-19 pandemic, with transplant activity dropping by more than 90 per cent in some countries.
Dr Olivier Aubert, Assistant Professor at the Paris Translational Research Centre for Organ Transplantation and lead author of the study, commented, “The first wave of Covid-19 had a devastating impact on the number of transplants across many countries, affecting patient waiting lists and regrettably leading to a substantial loss of life.”
Professor Alexandre Loupy, head of the Paris Translational Research Center for Organ Transplantation and last author of the study, furthered, “Living donor transplantation, which reduced more substantially, requires significant resources and planning compared to deceased donor transplantation. This is extremely difficult during a pandemic when resources are stretched and staff redeployed. There are also major ethical concerns for the wellbeing and safety of the donor.”
“It’s clear that there are many indirect deaths associated with Covid-19 and our study confirms that the pandemic has far-reaching consequences on many medical specialties.” added Prof. Loupy.
The estimated numbers of life-years lost were 37,664 years for patients waitlisted for a kidney, 7,370 for a liver, 1,799 years for a lung, and 1,406 for a heart, corresponding to a total 48,239 life-years lost.