Covid Tainted Donor Lungs Lead To The Death Of Transplant Patient

In a singular incident, a lung transplant patient has died after receiving lungs infected by the SARS CoV-2 virus. The deceased, a female resident of Michigan, passed away last fall, only two months after receiving the tainted transplant. The donor showed no symptoms of the Covid disease and his sample had come up negative for SARS CoV-2 virus, initially, according to sources.

Covid Tainted Donor Lungs Lead To The Death Of Transplant Patient

This is the very first incident involving the virus being transmitted through organ transplant, University of Michigan Medical School officials said. Apparently, a surgeon who handled the transplant had contracted the virus too but recovered completely. They are looking into the incident to find how the transmission occurred and if the transplant team was negligent, the officials said in a statement.

Covid Tainted Donor Lungs Lead To The Death Of Transplant Patient

This is the only time that a person has contracted Covid-19 among the nearly 40,000 transplants in the US last year. However, the incident has sparked calls for stringent testing of lung transplant donors. Many suggest taking samples from deep within the donor lungs, nose, and throat, according to Dr. Daniel Kaul, director of the Michigan Medicine Transplant Infectious Disease Service. Dr. Kaul, who co-authored a report on this case in the American Journal of Transplantation, is adamant that the lungs would not have been used had the Covid tests come back positive.

The transplant patient was suffering from chronic obstructive lung disease. She was given the lungs of a woman who passed away due to brain injuries suffered in a car accident. The procedure was carried out at the University Hospital in Ann Arbor. Both the samples from the donor as well as the recipient is taken as part of the routine checks returned a negative result for SARS CoV-2. All the necessary precautions and screenings were conducted accordingly, said Dr. Kaul. 

The patient developed a fever, low blood pressure, and labored breathing after three days.  The scans pointed to a lung infection. However, she went into septic shock as the problem worsened and had difficulties with the functioning of her heart. At this point, another SARS CoV-2 test was carried out for her new lungs and the results came back positive. Although the samples taken from the donor’s lungs were previously tested negative, a fluid sample retained from the lungs was now tested positive for the SARS CoV-2 virus. 

The surgeon who handled and transplanted the lungs was also diagnosed with Covid after four days. Further testing also revealed that both the surgeon and the patient had contracted the virus from the donor. However, a majority of the surgical team tested negative for Covid-19.

The Transplant patient then worsened in condition developing multiple organ failure. Although the doctors attempted all available treatments for her conditions including plasma therapy,  the newly released remdesivir for covid, as well as ECMO, she showed no improvements in health. She was taken off life support 61 days into her treatment and declared dead. The CDC has previously assessed similar cases and opined that the possible source of these transmissions was a community health care setting. 

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