ANN ARBOR, Mich. — The first documented case of a transplant recipient contracting the novel coronavirus from an organ donor has been confirmed in Michigan, resulting in the death of the patient.
A study, published recently in the American Journal of Transplantation by researchers at the University of Michigan School of Medicine, chronicled the first known case of a donor-to-recipient COVID-19 transmission, even though both the donor and recipient tested negative for the virus.
According to KMGH, the lung transplant procedure was performed in the fall of 2020, and also resulted in a surgeon contracting the virus but recovering.
Doctors confirmed the donor was a woman from the upper Midwest, who suffered a severe brain injury in a November car accident and advanced rapidly to “brain death,” the report stated.
The donor, who tested negative for COVID-19 before her lungs were harvested, showed no signs of the virus in the days preceding the accident and had no history of travel, her family confirmed.
Meanwhile, the recipient suffered from chronic obstructive lung disease and tested negative for COVID-19 prior to the transplantation, performed at University Hospital in Ann Arbor. Three days after the procedure, however, she spiked a fever, developed difficulty breathing and watched her blood pressure plummet. Images of her new lungs showed signs of infection, and test samples from the donated organs came back positive for COVID-19, KMGH reported.
The recipient died 61 days after the procedure, and no other organs from the donor were used in transplant procedures, the TV station reported.
“We would absolutely not have used the lungs if we’d had a positive COVID test,” Dr. Daniel Kaul, director of Michigan Medicine’s transplant infectious disease service and co-author of the report, told NBC News.
The report ultimately recommended that transplant centers test the lower respiratory tract of donated lungs for COVID-19 and consider enhancing personal protective equipment for health care workers involved in lung transplants, WNEM reported.
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