COVID-19 FAQ for the Transplant Community

IMPORTANT NOTE: Everyone’s situation is unique. Contact your specialist who is knowledgeable on your specific situation and can provide personalized recommendations. Doctors can give general advice, but contact your doctor for advice specific to your situation. The American Transplant Foundation is not offering any medical advice.

Can people who are asymptomatic transmit the

You can still shed the virus before you show symptoms, which can take up to 14 days. Once you have been infected, you can carry and transmit the virus for 10 days – 3 weeks, which is why we want to limit exposure as much as possible.

How long does it take for symptoms to appear
once infected?

It has been shown that someone who has been infected with the virus can take up to 14 days to exhibit symptoms. The median is usually 3-6 days, but it varies based on the individual. Also, remember that many remain asymptomatic and can still transmit the virus to others.

Should transplant patients stop taking their

No. If you stop taking medication without proper advice you run the risk of rejection and can make them at an even higher risk for infection. In patients who already have the virus, the general advice is to modify medication, but doctors will help with this. Bottom Line: don’t change your medication without seeing a healthcare provider.

Are organ donors at a higher risk?

Generally no, because most donors are in good health to begin with and there is no increased risk for infection. Take the same precautions as the average individual.

Does COVID-19 attack the Kidneys?

When you have any infection, if it escalates to a severe infection it can begin to affect different organs. COVID-19 primarily affects the lungs, but if it gets more severe it may affect the kidneys.

Is asthma an underlying disease?

Yes. Asthma is considered an underlying respiratory condition that makes an individual more susceptible to the virus.

Are heart transplant recipients at extra risk?

All transplant recipients are receiving immunosuppressants. The degree of medication varies based on transplant, but all recipients should take extra precautions.

Should transplant recipients wear masks when
going into public places?

Yes, it is recommended by the CDC to wear a cloth face-covering whenever one is in public. You should especially wear a mask if you are sick or going to an area where other people may be sick.

Should I have an extra 30-day supply of my

Yes. Patients should have extra medication just in case they can’t go outside or into a public place. It is a good idea to have extra 30-60 days of medication. Doctors should be able to work with you if you need a special prescription to obtain more medication.

Is home care a good idea as opposed to at a
transplant center?

In general, home care might be a good idea if available and if your insurance provider supports it. Make
sure the home health worker is in good health. There will be less exposure at home than going to a transplant center.

Should I still attend my dialysis treatments?

If you are a dialysis patient, it is important that you do NOT miss your treatments. All facilities should be taking proper
precautions to protect patients from the virus. If you are concerned, feel free to reach out to your dialysis center to ensure they are taking proper precautions. If you feel sick, please be sure to tell a member of your healthcare team so they can prepare accordingly.

I am awaiting a transplant. Could I get COVID-19 from my donor?

The risk of acquiring COVID-19 from organ donation is low. Donors are being screened for COVID-19 symptoms and exposure history, including travel. Many organ procurement organizations are testing some or all donors for COVID-19. Living donors who have been to high-risk areas or exposed to someone diagnosed or being evaluated for COVID-19 infection are generally being asked to postpone donation for 14 to 28 days after returning. Also, living donors are being asked to not travel to high-risk areas for at least 14 days before donation and monitor for symptoms.

Will my evaluation be stopped if I’ve had COVID-19?

As long as you are now free of the infection, your healthcare team will continue your evaluation. If your hospital is stressed for supplies and staff due to COVID-19 your transplant may be postponed. Make sure to reach out to your transplant center for specific concerns.

Are people who pass due to COVID-19 eligible organ donors?

Yes, they are eligible donors; however, a thorough screening for COVID-19 will need to be done in order to prevent infection upon transplantation (which poses a low risk). 

Should I send my child back to school if I am immunocompromised?

While there is no straight-forward answer, we would like to share some factors which you should consider.

To begin, the CDC recommends that any immunocompromised individual should refrain from going outside and interacting with others who do go outside; however, individuals may go out to do necessary tasks if they take precautions (face mask, gloves, wash their hands, etc.). This would imply that a child of an immunocompromised individual should remain at home if possible. Other factors to weigh include whether you can work with your child at home, the difference in educational quality, emotional/social development aspects, and your school district’s decision. The Division of Infectious Diseases at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia states that a child’s age should also be considered because a younger child is less likely to take the necessary safety precautions. Moreover, the American Association of Pediatrics urges children to go back to school due to potential setbacks in emotional and social development. Apart from all of this information, we encourage you to discuss the issue with your own doctor to see what they recommend.

You can check out the CDC school-specific website for more information:

Source:  ATF Community Support Webinar featuring Dr.
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