New COVID-19 insights could improve outcomes for transplant patients

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People who have received a solid organ transplant are more likely to suffer from severe COVID-19 infection, new research has found.

A team of researchers from 12 Spanish hospitals, led by Elisa Cordero, a doctor at the Virgen del Rocío University Hospital, researcher at the Institute of Biomedicine of Seville (IBiS) and Professor in the Department of Medicine at the University of Seville, set out to investigate the clinical characteristics and facilitate the prognosis of solid organ transplant recipients with COVID-19. The research detailed a more precise description of the complications caused by COVID-19 in organ transplant recipients and has provided useful clinical indicators to identify the disease early.

The research has been published in the journal PLOS ONE.

Researchers say that these findings will enable medical professionals to set out specific therapies and care measures based on an individual assessment of each patient. The study also highlights the importance of measures to prevent recently transplanted patients from contracting the SARS-CoV-2 infection.

Strict infection prevention measures needed

Dr Cordero commented: “This study found that SARS-CoV-2 infection is more severe in patients who have received a solid organ transplant, especially in the first months after transplantation. It is thus very important to take strict precautionary measures.”

The project received funding support from the Carlos III Health Institute (ISCIII), Spanish Ministry of Science and Innovation, through the call for Research Projects on SARS-CoV-2 and COVID-19 (COV20/00370) and the Clinical Research Support Platform of the ISCIII.

The study analysed a total of 210 patients with COVID-19, of whom 140 (70.5%) were male with an average age of 63 years old. It found that 90% of the patients suffered pneumonia, with the most frequent symptoms being fever, cough, gastrointestinal disorders, and dyspnoea. Of these patients, 17% required admission to intensive care units and 5.7% suffered graft dysfunction.

By the end of the study, the mortality rate among the sample was 21.4% – with 45 of the 210 patients having died. Some of the factors associated with intensive care admissions or mortality were advanced age, respiratory failure, a drop in lymphocytes, and elevated lactate dehydrogenase enzyme.




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