Has the COVID-19 Pandemic Affected Brain Death Notifications and Organ Donation Time?

Exp Clin Transplant. 2021 Aug 9. doi: 10.6002/ect.2021.0090. Online ahead of print.

Abstract

Objectives: The outbreak of coronavirus disease 2019, known as COVID-19, has rapidly evolved to a global pandemic. This pandemic represents an unprece - dented public health issue not only for the general population but also for patients on the transplant wait list. Multiple organizations around the world have published recommendations for the proper conduct of transplant procedures, including donor and recipient screening and perioperative management. We investigated the efficacy of these new recommendations and the effects of SARS-CoV-2 infection on the deceased donation rate, donor organ management, and the time from family consent to procurement.

Materials and methods: The characteristics of potential donors diagnosed with brain death between July 15, 2019, and November 18, 2020, were evaluated retrospectively. Demographic and clinical features, the time elapsed from the clinical diagnosis until confirmation, and rates of acceptance were recorded. Potential donors diagnosed with brain death before the pandemic and during the pandemic were compared according to these variables.

Results: Within the study period, 40 patients were diagnosed with brain death: 13 before the pandemic and 27 during the pandemic. The organs from 2 donors were procured before the pandemic. Organs from 3 of 8 donors were procured during the pandemic (the organs from 5 of these 8 patients were not donated). The organ donation time was 8.5 ± 2.12 hours (minimum-maximum, 7-10 hours) in the period before the pandemic and 54 ± 11.53 hours (minimummaximum, 45-67 hours) during the pandemic.

Conclusions: The number of donors decreased significantly in our hospital during the pandemic and was similar to the overall rate in Turkey. The duration of the donation process has been prolonged, and strategies to improve rates of organ donation, including infection control, have become a focus of concern.