ANN ARBOR, Mich. – The University of Michigan’s Medical School is reporting what could be the first proven case of COVID–19 transmission through an organ transplant.
Officials at the medical school say a Michigan woman who received a tainted double–lung transplant from a donor contracted the virus and died two months after her surgery.
According to reports from U of M’s medical facility, the organ donor did have COVID–19 in the past, but had not shown any signs of illness and initially tested negative before donation.
While this is an isolated incident, state procurement experts weigh in on why the pandemic has effected organ donation.
“The pandemic has definitely has had a lot of some impact”, said Chief Clinical Officer at Gift of Life Michigan Bruce Nicely. “To begin with in the earlier part of the pandemic, we didn’t know or understand everything about the virus, and how it spread and how it affected people differently, nor exactly what the ramifications were for caring for a recipient who got an organ transplant.”
A surgeon who handled the donor lungs in the U of M case was also infected with the virus and fell ill but later recovered.
Nicely said that while this incident is rare, currently, there is a lot of research being done to allow certain organ donations from COVID–19 patients to safely move forward.
There has definitely been a period of time up until today where currently infected patient with COVID-19 wouldn’t been considered for a donation,” said Nicely. “We’ve gradually within the last few months have been able to move to a place where at least a previous infection that’s clear and produces a negative test result, can be considered for a donation. The next step on the horizon is that people who are currently positive can still be considered for donation”
According to nicely despite the pandemic, organ donation has seen a slow uptick in the state since April of 2020.
If you’d like to become an organ donor or want more information you can visit www.giftoflifemichigan.org