Organ Transplants and COVID-19

With the outbreak of COVID-19 across the world and in our backyard, of Kirkland, WA, there is a lot of talk about people who are at a high risk to contract the novel coronavirus. Among the high risk are the elderly, people with underlying conditions, and one that is less frequently discussed is transplant patients due to  immunosuppressants.  

Immunosuppressants are one of the key post-transplant medicines taken by transplant recipients to suppress their immune system enough that their body should not reject their transplanted organ. 

Though immunosuppressants are life-savers for these individuals, they cause these individuals to be that much more at risk to illnesses and in today’s case, COVID-19. Transplant patients are considered very high-risk to contract COVID-19 with potentially fatal consequences. 

Transplant patients are no strangers to taking extreme caution on a daily basis, but events such as COVID-19 bring on a whole new level of caution. Not just for transplant patients, but for everyone. As a society we need to be vigilant about what we are doing and who we could be effecting. More often than not, you cannot tell someone has had a transplant by looking at them. Though you may not be high-risk for COVID-19, they are. 

It is easy to be scared during this time, but it is important to be smart and to look out for those with compromised immune systems. If you have a compromised immune system, or are a transplant recipient, stay calm, avoid interactions with those who have been exposed, if you have to leave your home wear a face mask, wash your hands even more often and take care of yourself! 

COVID-19 is real, but we are encouraged by the progress that is being made towards a vaccine for COVID-19, as well as, the increased cases of full recovery all over the world. Although this is a difficult and scary time, with proper caution and safe practices, people with, and without, compromised immune systems can stay healthy.