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As another wave of COVID-19 emerges, we’ve updated this page to present the latest information.

New variants have resulted in surging hospitalizations in the US. We aim to keep you informed with recommendations from trusted sources. Keep the following in mind:

  • Consult your healthcare team for tailored advice as we learn more about COVID-19.
  • We will update this page, a central point for patients, with new COVID-19 information from experts.

Consider essential precautions and measures

Adhere to safety protocols: wear masks, practice social distancing, and maintain hygiene.
Discuss your medications with your medical team concerning COVID treatments.
Learn about donor screening and testing to prevent transmission of infected organs to recipients through the transplanted organs and/or tissues.
Talk about stress, anxiety, and depression? At least one in ten recipients and donors suffer from psychological distress during COVID-19 pandemic. Learn more about the transplant patient’s mental health.

Frequently asked questions

What does it mean to be "immunocompromised"?
A person is considered immunocompromised when their immune system can’t readily recognize foreign cells including bacteria or viruses. Many different conditions and treatments can cause a person to be immunocompromised or have a weakened immune system. People who have received an organ transplant and many people who are waiting for a transplant are considered immunocompromised.
Why are transplant recipients considered more vulnerable to illnesses like COVID?
Having a weakened immune system can make you more likely to get severely ill from illnesses like influenza and COVID-19. Everyone who receives a transplant must take medicine to lower their immune system response, in order to prevent transplant rejection. This is known to increase their risk of getting infection. In addition, they are more likely to spend additional time in other healthcare settings such as a dialysis clinic or an outpatient lab, increasing their risk of exposure to illness.
What are the recommended precautions immunocompromised people should take to protect against coronavirus?
If you are a transplant recipient and taking immunosuppressive medications, you may not be fully protected even if you are up to date on your vaccinations. You should continue to take precautions recommended for unvaccinated people, until advised otherwise by your healthcare provider.

Actions you can take to protect yourself and others include:

  • Staying up to date with your COVID-19 vaccines
  • Wearing a well-fitting mask
  • Avoiding crowds and poorly ventilated spaces
  • Test to prevent the spread to others
  • Washing your hands often
  • Cover coughs and sneezes
  • Monitor your health daily
  • Talk with your transplant team about other preventative treatment options

Vaccine questions

Is a COVID-19 vaccination required in order to receive an organ transplant?
Each transplant hospital makes its own decisions about listing and transplanting candidates according to the hospital’s best clinical judgment, including whether or not any specific vaccination is part of their eligibility criteria. If you have questions about listing or transplant criteria at your hospital, we encourage you to contact the hospital directly. UNOS does not track which transplant centers require a COVID-19 vaccine.
Are there any ongoing concerns about the impact of COVID on fully-vaccinated transplant recipients?
Studies and real-life data show that even fully-vaccinated, immunocompromised transplant patients have an increased risk of developing severe COVID-19 infections. That is why additional boosters have been approved by the CDC and why some transplant programs have chosen to inform their patients to continue wearing masks and social distancing. If you have specific questions about the impact of COVID-19 on you as a transplant recipient, please contact your healthcare provider.
Can I still be a living organ donor if I have/have not received a COVID-19 vaccine?
As with other vaccines, receiving the COVID-19 vaccine does not prevent you from being a living organ donor. If you have not received a COVID-19 vaccine, your ability to be a living donor depends upon the specific eligibility requirements established by your transplant hospital. If you have questions about organ donor criteria at your hospital, we encourage you to contact the hospital directly.

General questions

Are organ donors tested for COVID-19? Can those who have had or currently have COVID-19 still donate? What about donors who have had or currently have “long COVID”?
All organ donors are tested for an active COVID-19 infection (and a variety of other illnesses and diseases) prior to donation. People who have recovered from COVID-19 and no longer have an active COVID-19 infection can be an organ donor.

The OPTN Disease Transmission Advisory Committee has developed donor testing guidance for professionals. The guidance is regularly updated.

While people who have active COVID are not generally considered as donors, in some rare cases, transplants from COVID-positive donors have been performed. These have taken place in limited numbers and on a case-by-case basis after careful assessment of the risks and benefits by clinicians and potential recipients.

Long COVID is a variety of symptoms that persist following resolution of an active COVID infection. Long COVID is not an active COVID infection.

As with all potential donors, following thorough testing, if the organs from a deceased donor who experienced long COVID are found to be suitable for transplant, they can be considered for transplantation on a case-by-case basis.

Are transplant programs changing appointments/clinics/lab tests due to COVID-19?
Each program is making decisions based on the availability of staff to help you and their assessment of the risk to patients by continuing these services in the short term. In some cases, programs are temporarily postponing some services or making new arrangements (such as telemedicine appointments) in the interest of patient safety. Your transplant team is the best source of information regarding their current schedule and arrangements. Keep in mind that they may continue to be adjusting them to meet new needs. If you have a scheduled appointment or procedure, you may wish to contact them in advance to see if anything has changed.
What happens if I am temporarily put in an inactive status? Do I lose any priority on the waiting list?
Some transplant programs, using their medical judgment, are determining it is best not to currently accept organ offers for some transplant candidates. This is based on the relative risk of your potential exposure to the virus during and soon after surgery as compared to your current level of urgency for a transplant.

A temporary inactivation does not mean that you are removed from the waiting list. It means that for a period of time determined by the transplant program, you would not be considered for organ offers. The transplant program may reactivate you at any time they believe they can resume transplanting patients as usual.

If you are awaiting a kidney and/or pancreas transplant, or if you have a child younger than age 12 needing a lung transplant, the priority you accrue based on waiting time will continue as long as you remain inactive. When you are reactivated you will keep all the waiting time you have gained.

If you need a different organ type, or you are a lung candidate older than age 12, you only accrue waiting time while you are in an active listing category. In this case, your transplant program may temporarily change the criteria for organ offers you might receive. That will allow you to remain active and continue to gain waiting time. You would, however, not be considered for organ offers until the program resets the criteria.

Your transplant program can discuss with you your current status and any conditions where they believe it is best to not accept organ offers for you for a limited time.

If my relative or friend needs a transplant, or just had a transplant, can I visit them at home or in the hospital?
Hospitals set their own visitation policies and restrictions and those should be followed with visiting someone in the hospital.

In general, you should follow current medical recommendations for masking and social distancing. CDC is continually updating its COVID-19 resource page with guidance and information. If you have specific questions about contact, your friend or loved one’s transplant team may offer more guidance.

Keep in mind that all transplant recipients take medicine to prevent organ rejection. That same medication may lower their normal immune response to common illnesses. People who have recently had an organ transplant often are on higher doses of these medications and must take additional precautions to lower their risk of infection.

Even if you are unable to visit them close and in person, you can continue to show your support and caring by sending them a card or gift, a call or video chat, or supporting them on social media.


Explore HHS guidelines

The U.S. Department of Human Services’ (HHS) agencies (FDA, NIH and CDC) have unveiled an updated strategy to address COVID-19. The current vaccines are expected to provide protection against COVID-19 from the currently circulating variants, according to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

For more information, please visit OPTN’s COVID-19 page
Over the past three years, OPTN gathered information on COVID-19. Collaborating with researchers and other organizations, we sought deeper insight into the disease caused by the SARS-CoV-2 virus. This virus spread rapidly and profoundly influenced the transplant community, as well as their dedicated medical teams.

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