New Delhi: The coronavirus has led to a global pandemic which has affected millions worldwide. The key manifestations of Covid-19 ranges from mild upper respiratory symptoms to multiorgan failure and death. Disease severity among patients in need of heart transplant on chronic immunosuppression needs much attention and caution.
The relation between immunosuppression and Covid-19 may render heart transplant recipients more susceptible to acquiring the infection and more severe diseases.
The pandemic has also had an impact on the delivery of care for patients suffering from heart failure and awaiting transplant. The risk of being infected with Covid-19 and exposure with healthcare workers needs to be balanced compared to the high risk of mortality on the wait list. Heart transplant is a life-saving surgery in which a diseased, failing heart is replaced with a healthier donor heart.
Heart transplant during the pandemic is achievable when appropriate precautions are taken. Further studies need to be done to understand immunosuppression management in heart transplant recipients affected by Covid-19.
Dr. Udgeath Dhir, Director and Head, CTVS, Fortis Memorial Research Institute, Gurugram shares few safety procedures employed to ensure 100 per cent success rate:
To ensure safety for everyone, it is mandatory to carry out a testing for Covid for the donor and the patient.
Uncontrolled Donation after Circulatory Death is not possible during the pandemic as the process does not allow for enough time for testing.
Living donors are only eligible to donate if they have not travelled outside the country in the last 21 days.
The donor should have also tested negative twice before the surgery in the last 24 hours. There is no increased risk to the heart transplant as a negative test for Covid-19 on the donor is mandatory before for any organ retrieval.
As far as the safety concern of the hospitals are concerned, the staff in ICUs that house patients are entitled to the full PPE including N-95 masks and eye protection.
Doctors, nurses, and paramedical staff continue to perform their duty with strict hand hygiene precautions and a triple layer surgical mask.