The U.S’ first proven COVID-19 spread through organ transplantation was reported in Michigan Yesterday. The transplant was held a couple of months before and it turned out that the donor was unknowingly a carrier of the coronavirus.
Woman Dies After Receiving COVID-Infected Lungs
Reports said that the donor was tested negative initially and didn’t show any symptoms. The doctor who handled the lungs of the donor was also infected with the coronavirus but recovered later.
The transplant was held in the Michigan University Hospital in Ann Arbor. after a woman from the Upper Midwest was reported to have died soon after a brain injury. The woman was met with a car accident. Her lung was transplanted to the recipient who was suffering from a chronic obstructive lung disorder. When the samples from both of them were tested for COVID-19, none of them came up with a positive result.
After three days of the transplantation surgery, the recipient started to show up symptoms of COVID-19. It began with spiking of fever and later her blood pressure level was dropped. She also had trouble breathing which eventually led her to death.
Dr. Daniel Kaul, the director of Michigan Medicine’s transplant infectious disease service, said that the incident is rarest, the only confirmed cases as for now among roughly around 40,000 transplants that occurred in 2020. Even though it is an isolated case, it led to calls for more thorough testing of donors. Kaul suggested that the samples can be taken from the lungs, throat, and nose of the donor, to detect whether he has already contracted the virus.
Kaul added that they would absolutely not have used the infected donor’s lung if they were aware or conducted a positive test. He repeated that the doctors who were involved in the transplant did all the screening that they normally do and were able to do.
A report on the case was published in the American Journal of Transplantation, and it was co-authored by Kaul.
The officials said that the recipient of the transplant started to show clear indications of lung infection. Her condition worsened further and she developed septic shock and issues with functions of the heart. When her condition turned severe, the doctors decided to have a test for SARS-Cov-2. The samples from her new lungs came back positive.
When the suspicious medical team tested the samples of the donor once again, they still showed a negative result. Her family members also said that she had no history of traveling before the accident and never showed any symptoms of COVID.
It was later from a stored sample of the donor’s deeper lung fluid, the doctors’ team could identify the source. The genetic samples from the recipient and the doctor who was tested positive after dealing with the donor’s lung showed the same origin as well.
The death of the recipient was caused after she developed multisystem organ failure. Despite the doctors’ tries, she dies. Officials said that she was given a newly approved drug and was transfused with plasma cells of the surviving patients but everything turned futile.