Doctors said that a Michigan woman was found to have contracted the novel coronavirus after a double lung transplant operation and died two months later, according to the Daily Mail on the 21st.
The unnamed woman was the first confirmed case of organ transplant transmission in the United States, researchers said in a study, raising questions about whether potential human organ donors have been properly screened for COVID-19.
Researchers who conducted the study noted that a surgeon who handled the donor’s lung lobes was also infected, proving that “[the woman’s COVID-19] came from donors and medical staff.”
The study, published in the American Journal of Transplant, said that a surgeon recovered after four days after surrendering the donor’s lobe of lungs and tested positive for COVID-19.
The donated lung lobe came from a woman in the Upper Midwest of the United States who suffered serious brain injuries and died in a car accident, the report said. Subsequently, at the University Hospital of Ann Arbor, the donor’s lobe was transplanted into a woman with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).
Nasal and throat samples collected from organ donors and recipients showed negative for COVID-19, said Dr. Daniel Richard Kaul, director of the Transplant Infectious Diseases department at the University of Michigan School of Medicine. “If we test positive for COVID-19, we will never use these lung lobes,” Kaul said. “We did all the checks we usually do and could do,” he added.
The study showed that the woman “had an increasing fever, hypotension and the need for a ventilator” on the third day after the transplant, and imaging tests showed that she had a lung infection. When the patient began to develop sepsis shock, the doctor decided to send samples of her lungs for COVID-19 testing, and the results were positive.
However, after doctors tested the nose and throat samples of transplant donors, the results showed negative. Finally, doctors tested a sample of fluid extracted from the depths of donated lung lobes before transplantation, and the results showed that they had a positive COVID-19 response.
The study said: “From the family history, they have no history of travel, nor have a recent history of fever, cough, headache or diarrhea. It is unclear whether donors have recently been exposed to people known or suspected to have COVID-19.”
The researchers said that the genetic screening showed that “receptors and surgeons of transplants have contracted the novel coronavirus from the donor’s lung lobes.”
The woman who received the transplant quickly deteriorated and was no longer considered a candidate for re-transplantation. Doctors say she died on the 61st day after the transplant.
The current U.S. organ acquisition and transplant process does not require organ donors to be tested for COVID-19, according to Kaiser Health News.
The study called on transplant centers and organ acquisition organizations to consider testing for COVID-19 for lower respiratory specimens of potential lung donors and to consider adding PPE for health care workers involved in lung organ acquisition and transplantation.