(HealthDay News) — The COVID-19 pandemic was associated with a decrease in transplantation in 2020, according to a study published in the American Journal of Surgery.

Alejandro Suarez-Pierre, MD, from the University of Colorado School of Medicine in Aurora, and colleagues examined adult transplantation data as time series data in a population-based cohort study. Models of transplantation rates were developed using data from 1990 to 2019 to project the expected 2020 rates in a theoretical scenario in which the pandemic did not occur. Observed-to-expected (O/E) ratios were calculated for transplants.

The researchers found that 32,594 transplants were expected in 2020, but 30,566 occurred (O/E, 0.94; 95 percent confidence interval, 0.88 to 0.99). A total of 50,241 waitlist registrations occurred compared with 58,152 expected (O/E, 0.86; 95 percent confidence interval, 0.80 to 0.94). For kidney, liver, heart, and lung, the O/E ratios (95 percent confidence intervals) of transplants were 0.92 (0.86 to 0.98), 0.96 (0.89 to 1.04), 1.05 (0.91 to 1.23), and 0.92 (0.82 to 1.04), respectively. The corresponding O/E ratios (95 percent confidence intervals) of waitlist registrations were 0.84 (0.77 to 0.93), 0.95 (0.86 to 1.06), 0.99 (0.85 to 1.18), and 0.80 (0.70 to 0.94).


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“The COVID-19 pandemic was associated with a significant deficit in solid organ transplantation, donation, and waitlist registrations in the United States in 2020. The impact was strongest in kidney transplantation and waitlist registration,” the authors write. “While the pandemic persisted through 2020, the transplant system adapted remarkably well with a record number of transplantations performed.”

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