Patients who recover from Covid-19 can still donate organs, tissue

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The medical community continues to learn more about the 2019 SARS-COV-2 coronavirus, and that could bring renewed hope for the thousands of people waiting for a new life-saving organ.

A previous Covid-19 infection is no longer an automatic obstacle to donating vital organs and tissue – as long as the donor had fully recovered from the virus and no longer showed any symptoms of it.

“Early on, they were excluded from donation,” said Bruce Nicely, Chief Clinical Officer of Gift of Life Michigan. “As we’ve learned more, experts in the transplant world are beginning to see some hope and possibility that liver and kidneys and other organs might be perfectly safe to transplant.”

There are exceptions, of course. If a potential donor has an active case of Covid-19 or dies from the virus, they are not eligible as donors.

Lungs are still automatically ruled out for transplant from a patient with a Covid-19 history. However, if someone recovered from Covid-19, then died from something unrelated to the virus, they may be to donate tissue and other organs, providing:

  • 28 days have passed since they recovered from Covid-19
  • They had two negative Covid-19 tests
  • There are no longer any symptoms

From a transplant perspective, Covid-19 is no different than any other disease or illness. All potential donors are now tested for the virus, as they are for many other infectious diseases. All potential donors are evaluated at the time of death to ensure no illness or disease is passed from a donor to a recipient.

There is a continued need for organ and tissue donations across the U.S. About 110,000 people are waiting for a life-saving organ, including more than 2,500 here in Michigan. To sign up as a donor, click here.

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