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COVID-19: What transplant patients should know

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                                                                                                                                        Photo: Getty Images

Coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) is a respiratory illness that can spread from person to person.

I am a transplant patient. Am I at higher risk for the virus?

We do not have specific information to know if 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.

How can I protect myself?

The best way to prevent infection is to avoid being exposed to the virus. The CDC recommends the following:

  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth with unwashed hands.
  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds.
  • Use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol if soap and water are not available.
  • Stay home when you are sick with mild illness. Notify your transplant team.
  • Get plenty of rest.
  • Drink plenty of fluids.
  • Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash.
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces.
  • Only wear a facemask if a health care professional recommends it.

I am a recent organ donor or recipient, and I don't feel well. When should I seek medical attention?

Seek immediate medical attention if you have:

  • Difficulty breathing or shortness of breath
  • Persistent chest pain or pressure
  • Bluish lips and face

Additionally, if you feel newly confused or have difficulty waking up, seek medical attention immediately.

Who should I contact if I think I have COVID-19?

Call (804) 828-0951 and ask for the on-call heart, kidney or liver transplant coordinator.

You should call your transplant coordinator before coming to VCU Health Hume-Lee Transplant Center if you experience fever, coughing or shortness of breath and do not have an explanation for these symptoms; and if you had close contact with someone who has tested positive for COVID-19.

What should I do if I have an upcoming appointment?

Clinic appointments are limited to one visitor. You or your family and friends should not visit VCU Health Hume-Lee Transplant Center if you are sick or have a fever, cough, runny nose, sore throat, headache, muscle or joint pain. You may encounter additional health screenings near VCU Health Hume-Lee Transplant Center.

If I have any general questions related to COVID-19, can I just contact my transplant coordinator?

Yes, call (804) 828-0951 and ask for the on-call heart, kidney or liver coordinator.

For additional information on COVID-19, please visit the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) website at cdc.gov.

For ongoing updates from VCU Health, visit vcuhealth.org/covid-19.