Liver Transplant in the Current Covid-19 Pandemic
In my current clinical practice, these are the top 5 questions that my patients and families ask.
- 1. What is COVID 19 infection and how does it spread?
COVID 19 is caused by the coronavirus COVID 19 and it predominantly affects the respiratory system. It has a spectrum ranging from an asymptomatic to a severe illness. It spreads from an infected person to another by small particles called as droplets through the air and also by means of hands touching an infected surface to the nose and eyes.
- 2. Doctor, I have had a liver transplant, am I at increased risk of getting COVID infection?
Yes, transplant patients are at an increased risk of getting COVID infection as compared to the normal population due to their ongoing immunosuppression (medications to reduce immunity). The best way is prevention. Currently, I manage most of the patients by teleconsultation rather than calling patients to the clinic.
- 3. I have liver cirrhosis and have been recommended liver transplants. Should I undergo one currently during this COVID pandemic?
Every patient is different and it depends on the clinical condition of the patient(how sick they are) and the benefits and risks of doing liver transplants in the current COVID pandemic. Experienced transplant specialists can surely help patients and their families take this decision. We follow all recommended protocols while doing liver transplants to eliminate the risk of COVID infection for the patient.
- 4. I am a living liver donor and am going to donate part of my liver to my father. Should I go ahead during this COVID pandemic?
In my practice, my motto is to do no harm to the living donor. It is the topmost priority as living donors have no benefit other than emotional during the entire process. All living donors undergo tests to make sure they will be able to undergo the surgery in a safe manner and recover from it. All COVID protocols are followed strictly to eliminate the risk of COVID infection.
- 5. I had a simultaneous pancreas and kidney transplant for kidney disease due to diabetes. Can I take the COVID vaccine?
Yes, all transplant patients are recommended to take the COVID vaccine except those who have been recently transplanted. The benefits of vaccination outweigh any potential risks.