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Woman Dies Of Covid After Receiving Lung Transplant From Infected Patient

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Woman Dies Of Covid After Receiving Lung Transplant From Infected Patient

A woman has died from Covid-19 after receiving a lung transplant from an infected patient.

In a study, researchers claimed the Michigan woman, who has not been named, is the first confirmed case of Covid transmission in a transplant patient in the US.

The study, published in the American Journal of Transplantation, also stated that one of the surgeons who had handled the organ was also found to have been infected with the disease four days later.

Analysis of bronchoalveolar lavage (BAL) fluid from the donor, recipient and infected surgeon proved 'donor origin of recipient and health care worker infection', the researchers concluded.

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The recipient of the transplant had been suffering with chronic obstructive lung disease, known as COPD, with the donor having died following a car accident.

Speaking about the case, Dr Daniel Richard Kaul, director of the Transplant Infectious Disease Service at the University of Michigan Medical School, said both the donor and the recipient had been tested for Covid - with result coming back as negative.

Dr Kaul said this was a 'tragic case'. Credit: Michigan University
Dr Kaul said this was a 'tragic case'. Credit: Michigan University

He told Kaiser Health News: "We would absolutely not have used the lungs if we'd had a positive Covid test.

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"All the screening that we normally do and are able to do, we did."

However, three days after the operation, the woman's temperature spiked and she was found to have developed a fever.

After the patient started to present with septic shock, doctors sent off samples of the lungs for a Covid test, which came back as positive.

They then tested a fluid sample from deep within the donated lungs, which was taken prior to being implanted. This came back as positive.

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The study says: "History obtained from family revealed no history of travel or any recent fever, cough, headache, or diarrhea.

Doctors have said organ donation is perfectly safe. Credit: PA
Doctors have said organ donation is perfectly safe. Credit: PA

"It is unknown if the donor had any recent exposures to persons known or suspected to be infected with SARS-CoV-2."

Dr Kaul said this was a 'tragic case'.

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It is unclear whether Covid affects other organs, such as the heart, liver, and kidneys, in the same way with regards to transplant.

Dr Kaul said: "It seems for non-lung donors that it may be very difficult to transmit Covid, even if the donor has Covid."

Viral transmissions from organ donations remain rare, doctors say, with fewer than one percent of transplant recipients contracting a virus in this way.

And Dr David Klassen, the chief medical officer with the United Network for Organ Sharing, wanted to reassure people that transplants were safe and that they shouldn't be put off from proceeding with it.

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He said: "The risks of turning down transplants are catastrophic. I don't think patients should be afraid of the transplant process."

Featured Image Credit: PA

Topics: covid, Science, Coronavirus, US News, Health, Covid-19

Dominic Smithers
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