(HealthDay News) — During the COVID-19 pandemic, there was a decrease in organ transplant activity, according to a study published online in The Lancet Public Health to coincide with the biennial congress of the European Society for Organ Transplantation, held from Aug. 29 to Sept. 1 in Milan.
Olivier Aubert, MD, from the Université de Paris, and colleagues conducted an observational study using cohorts of consecutive kidney, liver, lung, and heart transplants from 22 countries. Data were obtained from Jan. 1 to Dec. 31, 2020, and from the same period in 2019. The effect of the pandemic on the worldwide organ transplantation rate was assessed.
The researchers found that in all countries studied, transplant activity showed an overall decrease during the pandemic. The most affected was kidney transplantation, followed by lung, liver, and heart. Three organ transplant patterns were identified: countries with a sharp decline in transplantation rate with a low COVID-19-related death rate; countries with a moderate decline in transplantation rate and a moderate COVID-19-related death rate; and countries with a slight decline in transplantation rate in spite of having a high COVID-19-related death rate. During the first 3 months of the pandemic, there was a marked worldwide reduction seen in transplant activity; losses stabilized after June 2020 and decreased again from October to December 2020. The overall reduction in transplants translated to a loss of 48,239 wait-listed patient life-years.
“The first wave of COVID-19 had a devastating impact on the number of transplants across many countries, affecting patient waiting lists and regrettably leading to a substantial loss of life,” Aubert said in a statement.