Challenges in heart transplantation during COVID-19: A single-center experience
J Heart Lung Transplant
BACKGROUND: Orthotopic heart transplantation (OHT) recipients may be particularly vulnerable to coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19). OHT during the pandemic presents unique challenges in terms of feasibility and safety. METHODS: Chart review was performed for consecutive OHT recipients with COVID-19 and waitlisted patients who underwent OHT from March 1, 2020 to May 15, 2020. RESULTS: Of the approximately 400 OHT recipients followed at our institution, 22 acquired COVID-19. Clinical characteristics included median age 59 (range, 49-71) years, 14 (63.6%) were male, and median time from OHT to infection was 4.6 (2.5-20.6) years. Symptoms included fever (68.2%), gastrointestinal complaints (55%), and cough (46%). COVID-19 was severe or critical in 5 (23%). All patients had elevated inflammatory biomarkers. Immunosuppression was modified in 85% of patients. Most (nâ¯=â¯16, 86.4%) were hospitalized, 18% required intubation, and 14% required vasopressor support. Five patients (23%) expired. None of the patients requiring intubation survived. Five patients underwent OHT during the pandemic. They were all males, ranging from 30 to 59 years of age. Two were transplanted at United Network of Organ Sharing Status 1 or 2, 1 at Status 3, and 2 at Status 4. All were successfully discharged and are alive without allograft dysfunction or rejection. One contracted mild COVID-19 after the index hospitalization. CONCLUSION: OHT recipients with COVID-19 appear to have outcomes similar to the general population hospitalized with COVID-19. OHT during the pandemic is feasible when appropriate precautions are taken. Further study is needed to guide immunosuppression management in OHT recipients affected by COVID-19.