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People who have recovered from coronavirus can safely donate their kidneys, according to the findings of a multi-centre study based on 31 transplant cases.
The transplant surgeries were conducted after the first wave of the pandemic between July and September last year. All donors were those who had mild infection.
The study was prompted by the unavailability of literature on kidney transplants in case the donor is a person who has recovered from COVID-19, said Dr Sanjiv Gulati, director, Nephrology, Fortis Hospital, Vasant Kunj.
Gulati, who is one of the authors of the study, said there is a huge shortage of kidney donors.
He said, "This is because there are smaller families these days and in many cases, diabetes runs in the family. Then there is the added fear of coronavirus. What can we do if people who have recovered from coronavirus are donors?"
Gulati said there was an apprehension that in case the person donating the kidney was someone who recovered from COVID-19, a low degree of coronavirus could be transferred to the recipient during the transplant process.
Recipients are given immunosuppressants to lower their immunity during the transplant process and this makes them vulnerable to infection, he added.
"The world over, kidney transplants were stopped when the coronavirus pandemic started. Later, we started following the Standard Operating Procedure for kidney transplants that included screening donors twice for Covid," Gulati said.
"We looked at other infectious diseases. The most common infection that is similar to coronavirus is flu. We looked at the duration of the coronavirus infection. In the recovered donors, we conducted two RT-PCR tests within a month to see whether they were completely free from the infection," he said.
The donors were also screened for residual damage to their other organs due to coronavirus before being taken for surgery.
"We did their echocardiogram, HRCT and ultrasound to ensure that they had fully recovered," Gulati said.
"The patients had a six-month follow-up and we saw that the recipients did not develop COVID-19 after surgeries," he said.
The study has been published in a medical journal, Transplantation, he said.
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