We do not have specific information on whether COVID-19 infection will be more severe in transplant recipients compared to healthy people; however, other viruses often cause more severe disease in people whose immune system is low, such as transplant recipients. For this reason, it is important to take precautions to prevent infection.
Infection occurs mostly through close, direct contact with someone who is carrying the virus.
There is widespread or continued community transmission. The CDC has issued Level 3 (avoid non-essential travel) for the following countries:
As of March 14, 2020, there are people with COVID-19 in more than 100 countries. We currently recommend that transplant recipients:
Additionally, COVID-19 is being transmitted in the US and within our communities and these rates are increasing. It is best to also postpone non-essential local travel and practice “social distancing,” avoiding crowds as much as possible. To avoid large gatherings, consider:
Travel restriction recommendations are likely to change over time. Check frequently for updated recommendations:
It is best to avoid close contact for 14 days with individuals who returned from an area where they could have been exposed to COVID-19. If the individual remains healthy after 14 days, contact can be resumed.
If avoiding contact is not possible, it is recommended to:
There are many different causes for fever, cough, shortness of breath, and flu-like symptoms.
Currently, in North America, you are much more likely to get influenza or other respiratory viruses, compared to getting COVID-19. If you believe you have COVID-19 based on your travel or contact history, call your transplant team for further instructions. If you have a cough or fever and access to a mask, place a surgical mask on (refer to figure above titled “The N95 Versus the Surgical Mask”) when in public to avoid the spread of infection to anyone else.
If you have only mild symptoms your transplant center may not want you to come to the clinic, so talk with your transplant center FIRST before coming to a hospital or clinic.
If you are experiencing mild or severe respiratory illness with fever, cough and difficulty breathing, you can also call our free COVID-19 line for advice - 844-888-2772.
If a close contact is diagnosed with or suspected of having COVID-19, he/she should avoid all further contact with the transplant recipient. The transplant recipient or their family members should let their transplant coordinator know that they have been in contact with someone diagnosed with COVID-19. The transplant recipient should be monitored for symptoms and contact their transplant coordinator if they develop fever, cough or shortness of breath.
Currently, there is no approved vaccine or medication to treat or prevent infection, but clinical trials are in development.
At this moment, testing for the virus that causes COVID-19 is mostly done by public health authorities, but this is changing as more commercial testing becomes available. If you believe you have COVID-19, call your transplant team for further instructions.
The risk of acquiring COVID-19 in hospitals in the United States and Canada is still very low. Healthcare facilities are evaluating patients for the risk of COVID-19, and if the suspicion is high, those patients are being isolated.
We recommend that you be mindful of what is happening in your community by checking the local public health reports.
Some other things to consider:
Consider having medicines:
The risk of acquiring COVID-19 from organ donation is low. Donors are being screened for COVID-19 symptoms and travel history. Living donors who have been to high-risk areas are generally being asked to postpone donation for 14 to 28 days after returning.
Also, living donors are being asked to not travel to high risk areas for at least 14 days before donation and monitor for symptoms. Information about recent travel and possible exposure is also asked about deceased donors to help determine if it is safe to use them for organ and tissue donation.
The CDC and WHO are working hard to maintain up to date information about the spread of COVID-19 including changing conditions in the United States. For further information: