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Heart Transplant Volumes Decreased in COVID-19 Era

Waitlist inactivations increased, waitlist additions and deceased donor recovery decreased

heart model

FRIDAY, July 24, 2020 (HealthDay News) -- In the COVID-19 era, there has been a decrease in heart transplant (HT) volumes, according to a study published online July 22 in JAMA Cardiology.

Ersilia M. DeFilippis, M.D., from the Columbia University Irving Medical Center in New York City, and colleagues describe trends in waitlist inactivations, waitlist additions, donor recovery, and HT volume during COVID-19 in a descriptive cross-sectional study. Changes were examined from the pre-COVID-19 (Jan. 19 to March 15, 2020) to the COVID-19 era (March 15 to May 9, 2020).

The researchers identified 600 waitlist inactivations during the COVID-19 era compared with 343 during the pre-COVID-19 era (75 percent increase); there was a 37 percent decrease in waitlist additions, from 637 to 395. The most profound changes were seen in the Northeast and Great Lakes regions, with high COVID-19 rates. There was a 26 percent decrease in deceased donor recovery from 1,878 to 1,395; despite low COVID-19 prevalence, the most significant decrease occurred in the North Midwest. Across all regions, except the Northwest, there were significant reductions noted in HT volumes. There was significant regional variation seen in waitlist additions and deceased donor recovery from the pre-COVID-19 to the COVID-19 era.

"We must be prepared for more inactivations and fewer transplants if and when future surges of COVID-19 cases occur," the authors write. "In the coming months, the consequences of these waitlist inactivations and decreased transplant volumes on waitlist mortality must be surveilled."

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