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  • Kalwani NM
  • Osmanlliu E
  • Parameswaran V
  • Qureshi L
  • Dash R
  • et al.
J Telemed Telecare. 2024 Apr;30(3):543-548 doi: 10.1177/1357633X211073428.

Early in the COVID-19 pandemic, cardiology clinics rapidly implemented telemedicine to maintain access to care. Little is known about subsequent trends in telemedicine use and visit volumes across cardiology subspecialties. We conducted a retrospective cohort study including all patients with ambulatory visits at a multispecialty cardiovascular center in Northern California from March 2019 to February 2020 (pre-COVID) and March 2020 to February 2021 (COVID). Telemedicine use increased from 3.5% of visits (1200/33,976) during the pre-COVID period to 63.0% (21,251/33,706) during the COVID period. Visit volumes were below pre-COVID levels from March to May 2020 but exceeded pre-COVID levels after June 2020, including when local COVID-19 cases peaked. Telemedicine use was above 75% of visits in all cardiology subspecialties in April 2020 and stabilized at rates ranging from over 95% in electrophysiology to under 25% in heart transplant and vascular medicine. From June 2020 to February 2021, subspecialties delivering a greater percentage of visits through telemedicine experienced larger increases in new patient visits (r = 0.81, p = 0.029). Telemedicine can be used to deliver a significant proportion of outpatient cardiovascular care though utilization varies across subspecialties. Higher rates of telemedicine adoption may increase access to care in cardiology clinics.

  • Kulkarni S
  • Flescher A
  • Ahmad M
  • Bayliss G
  • Bearl D
  • et al.
J Med Ethics. 2023 Jun;49(6):389-392 doi: 10.1136/medethics-2021-107574.

The transplant community has faced unprecedented challenges balancing risks of performing living donor transplants during the COVID-19 pandemic with harms of temporarily suspending these procedures. Decisions regarding postponement of living donation stem from its designation as an elective procedure, this despite that the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services categorise transplant procedures as tier 3b (high medical urgency-do not postpone). In times of severe resource constraints, health systems may be operating under crisis or contingency standards of care. In this manuscript, the United Network for Organ Sharing Ethics Workgroup explores prioritisation of living donation where health systems operate under contingency standards of care and provide a framework with recommendations to the transplant community on how to approach living donation in these circumstances.To guide the transplant community in future decisions, this analysis suggests that: (1) living donor transplants represent an important option for individuals with end-stage liver and kidney disease and should not be suspended uniformly under contingency standards, (2) exposure risk to SARS-CoV-2 should be balanced with other risks, such as exposure risks at dialysis centres. Because many of these risks are not quantifiable, donors and recipients should be included in discussions on what constitutes acceptable risk, (3) transplant hospitals should strive to maintain a critical transplant workforce and avoid diverting expertise, which could negatively impact patient preparedness for transplant, (4) transplant hospitals should consider implementing protocols to ensure early detection of SARS-CoV-2 infections and discuss these measures with donors and recipients in a process of shared decision-making.

  • Darılmaz Yüce G
  • Ulubay G
  • Tek K
  • Savaş Bozbaş Ş
  • Erol Ç
  • et al.
Exp Clin Transplant. 2023 May;21(5):451-459 doi: 10.6002/ect.2021.0361.
OBJECTIVES:

The clinical features and treatment approaches, outcomes, and mortality predictors of COVID-19 in solid-organ transplant recipients have not been well defined. This study investigated the clinical features of COVID-19 infection in solid-organ transplant recipients at our center in Turkey.

MATERIALS AND METHODS:

Our study included 23 solidorgan transplant recipients and 336 nontransplant individuals (143 previously healthy and 193 patients with at least 1 comorbidity) who were hospitalized due to COVID-19 disease in our hospital between March 2020 and January 2021. Demographic, clinical, and laboratory data of patients were compared. We used SPSS version 20.0 for statistical analysis. All groups were compared using chi-square and Mann-Whitney U tests. P <.05 was considered statistically significant.

RESULTS:

Mean age of solid-organ transplant recipients was 49.8 ± 13.7 years (78.3% men, 21.7% women). Among the 23 recipients, 17 (73.9%) were kidney and 6 (26.1%) were liver transplant recipients. Among nontransplant individuals, 88.7% (n = 298) had mild/moderate disease and 11.3% (n = 38) had severe disease. Among transplant recipients, 78.3% (n = 18) had mild/moderate disease and 21.7% (n = 5) had severe disease (P = .224). Transplant recipients had greater requirements for nasal oxygen (P = .005) and noninvasive mechanical ventilation (P = .003) and had longer length of intensive care unit stay (P = .030) than nontransplant individuals. No difference was found between the 2 groups in terms of mortality (P = .439). However, a subgroup analysis showed increased mortality in transplant recipients versus previously healthy patients with COVID-19 (P <.05). Secondary infections were major causes of mortality in transplant recipients.

CONCLUSIONS:

COVID-19 infection resulted in higher mortality in solid-organ transplant recipients versus that shown in healthy patients. More attention on secondary infections is needed in transplant recipients to reduce mortality.

  • Caliskan G
  • Sayan A
  • Kilic I
  • Haki C
  • Girgin NK
  • et al.
Exp Clin Transplant. 2023 May;21(5):460-466 doi: 10.6002/ect.2021.0090.
OBJECTIVES:

The outbreak of coronavirus disease 2019, known as COVID-19, has rapidly evolved to a global pandemic. This pandemic represents an unprecedented public health issue not only for the general population but also for patients on the transplant wait list. Multiple organizations around the world have published recommendations for the proper conduct of transplant procedures, including donor and recipient screening and perioperative management. We investigated the efficacy of these new recommendations and the effects of SARS-CoV-2 infection on the deceased donation rate, donor organ management, and the time from family consent to procurement.

MATERIALS AND METHODS:

The characteristics of potential donors diagnosed with brain death between July 15, 2019, and November 18, 2020, were evaluated retrospectively.Demographic and clinical features,the time elapsed from the clinical diagnosis until confirmation, and rates of acceptance were recorded. Potential donors diagnosed with brain death before the pandemic and during the pandemic were compared according to these variables.

RESULTS:

Within the study period, 40 patients were diagnosed with brain death: 13 before the pandemic and 27 during the pandemic. The organs from 2 donors were procured before the pandemic. Organs from 3 of 8 donors were procured during the pandemic (the organs from 5 of these 8 patients were not donated). The organ donation time was 8.5 ± 2.12 hours (minimum-maximum, 7-10 hours) in the period before the pandemic and 54 ± 11.53 hours (minimummaximum, 45-67 hours) during the pandemic.

CONCLUSIONS:

The number of donors decreased significantly in our hospital during the pandemic and was similarto the overallrate inTurkey.The duration of the donation process has been prolonged, and strategies to improve rates of organ donation, including infection control, have become a focus of concern.

  • Mulder MB
  • van der Eijk AA
  • GeurtsvanKessel CH
  • Erler NS
  • de Winter BCM
  • et al.
Gut. 2022 Dec;71(12):2605-2608 doi: 10.1136/gutjnl-2021-326755.
  • Kolonko A
  • Kuczaj AA
  • Musialik J
  • Słabiak-Błaż N
  • Hrapkowicz T
  • et al.
Pol Arch Intern Med. 2022 Nov 28;132(2) doi: 10.20452/pamw.16139.
INTRODUCTION:

The COVID-19 pandemic has disproportionately affected patients who have undergone solid organ transplantation (SOT).

OBJECTIVES:

We aimed to assess a cohort of transplant recipients who developed COVID‑19, with a focus on immunosuppressive regimen, blood tacrolimus levels, clinical course, and patient and graft outcomes.

PATIENTS AND METHODS:

During the first 12 months of the pandemic, we identified ambulatory SOT recipients, including kidney, liver, and heart transplant recipients, diagnosed with SARS‑CoV‑2 infection. Baseline and follow‑up data on graft function, immunosuppression, and patient and graft outcomes were assessed.

RESULTS:

Of the 2091 ambulatory patients, we identified 201 transplant recipients (9.6%) with SARS‑CoV‑2 infection (kidney transplant, n = 112; heart transplant, n = 56; liver transplant, n = 33). Patients after recent kidney (during 2015-2020) or heart (during 2020) transplant were significantly more often diagnosed with COVID ‑19 than patients with a longer time since transplant. Additionally, blood trough tacrolimus levels measured during or shortly after COVID‑19 in 23 kidney graft recipients were significantly increased by a median of 76.1% (interquartile range, 47.4%-109.4%) relative to predose trough levels. However, liver function parameters were not elevated, necessitating a tacrolimus dose reduction in 73.9% of the patients.

CONCLUSIONS:

In our study, kidney transplant recipients showed significant disturbances of tacrolimus metabolism, which may account for kidney function worsening during COVID‑19. Moreover, infection was more common in patients with recent kidney or heart transplant, which suggests that the level of immunosuppression may affect morbidity related to SARS‑CoV‑2 infection.

  • Quiroga B
  • Soler MJ
  • Ortiz A
  • Martínez Vaquera S
  • Jarava Mantecón CJ
  • et al.
Nephrol Dial Transplant. 2022 Sep 22;37(10):1868-1878 doi: 10.1093/ndt/gfab313.
BACKGROUND:

Chronic kidney disease (CKD) patients are at high-risk for severe coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19). The multicentric, observational and prospective SENCOVAC study aims to describe the humoral response and safety of severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) vaccines in CKD patients. Safety and immediate humoral response results are reported here.

METHODS:

Four cohorts of patients were included: kidney transplant (KT) recipients, and haemodialysis (HD), peritoneal dialysis (PD) and non-dialysis CKD patients from 50 Spanish centres. Adverse events after vaccine doses were recorded. At baseline and on Day 28 after the last vaccine dose, anti-Spike antibodies were measured and compared between cohorts. Factors associated with development of anti-Spike antibodies were analysed.

RESULTS:

A total of 1746 participants were recruited: 1116 HD, 171 PD, 176 non-dialysis CKD patients and 283 KT recipients. Most patients (98%) received mRNA vaccines. At least one vaccine reaction developed after the first dose in 763 (53.5%) and after the second dose in 741 (54.5%) of patients. Anti-Spike antibodies were measured in the first 301 patients. At 28 days, 95% of patients had developed antibodies: 79% of KT, 98% of HD, 99% of PD and 100% of non-dialysis CKD patients (P < 0.001). In a multivariate adjusted analysis, absence of an antibody response was independently associated with KT (odds ratio 20.56, P = 0.001) and with BNT162b2 vaccine (odds ratio 6.03, P = 0.023).

CONCLUSION:

The rate of anti-Spike antibody development after vaccination in KT patients was low but in other CKD patients it approached 100%, suggesting that KT patients require persistent isolation measures and booster doses of a COVID-19 vaccine. Potential differences between COVID-19 vaccines should be explored in prospective controlled studies.

  • Sahin MF
  • Beyoglu MA
  • Turkkan S
  • Tezer Tekce Y
  • Yazicioglu A
  • et al.
Exp Clin Transplant. 2022 Sep;20(9):842-848 doi: 10.6002/ect.2020.0567.
OBJECTIVES:

The COVID-19 pandemic, which emerged in late 2019, adversely affected all solid-organ transplant processes. Here we share the donor presentations evaluated in a lung transplant center during the COVID-19 pandemic,the measures taken at every stage of transplant management, and the outcomes of our transplants.

MATERIALS AND METHODS:

Data from 15 lung donors selected by the national coordination center presented to our lung transplant center as of March 11, 2020, when the first COVID-19 case was reported in Turkey, and data of 5 lung transplant cases in this period were retrospectively analyzed. All donors were examined in detail for COVID-19 disease. Procurement processes for accepted donors,transplant surgeries of recipients, and postoperative follow-up and care processes of recipients were carried out with the least number of personnel, but all with appropriate personal protective equipment.

RESULTS:

There were 15 donor organs procured by our center during a 9-month period coincident with the COVID-19 pandemic. The number of donor presentations to our center between the same dates in the previous year was 78. Five of the 15 donors were accepted, and of those accepted, 4 were male and 1 was female. There was no statistically significant difference between the accepted and rejected donors in terms of the ratio of Pao2 to fraction of inspired oxygen, age, duration of endotracheal intubation (days), and smoking (pack-years). All SARS-CoV-2 reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction tests performed on bronchoalveolar lavage samples and nasopharyngeal, conjunctival, and rectal samples collected from the recipients during the follow-up period were negative. No pathological finding suggestive of COVID-19 infection was noted in the radiological evaluations.

CONCLUSIONS:

Lung transplant can be successfully managed during the COVID-19 pandemic period, despite the high risk of infection.The major obstacle to the continuity of lung transplantin this period was the limited number of donors.

  • Yazıcıoğlu B
  • Bakkaloğlu SA
  • European Society for Pediatric Nephrology
  • Yazicioglu B
  • Bakkaloglu SA
Pediatr Nephrol. 2022 Aug;37(8):1867-1875 doi: 10.1007/s00467-021-05226-1.
BACKGROUND:

Coronavirus disease-2019 (COVID-19) has been challenging for patients and medical staff. Radical changes have been needed to prevent disruptions in patient care and medical education.

METHODS:

A web-based survey was sent to European Society for Pediatric Nephrology (ESPN) members via the ESPN mailing list to evaluate the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on delivery of pediatric nephrology (PN) care and educational activities. There were ten questions with subheadings.

RESULTS:

Seventy-six centers from 24 countries completed the survey. The time period was between the beginning of the pandemic and May 30, 2020. The number of patients admitted in PN wards and outpatient clinics were significantly decreased (2.2 and 4.5 times, respectively). Telemedicine tools, electronic prescriptions, online applications for off-label drugs, and remote access to laboratory/imaging results were used in almost half of the centers. Despite staff training and protective measures, 33% of centers reported COVID-19 infected staff, and 29% infected patients. Difficulties in receiving pharmaceuticals were reported in 25% of centers. Sixty percent of centers suspended living-related kidney transplantation, and one-third deceased-donor kidney transplantation. Hands-on education was suspended in 91% of medical schools, and face-to-face teaching was replaced by online systems in 85%. Multidisciplinary training in PN was affected in 54% of the centers.

CONCLUSIONS:

This survey showed a sharp decline in patient admissions and a significant decrease in kidney transplantation. Telemedicine and online teaching became essential tools, requiring integration into the current system. The prolonged and fluctuating course of the pandemic may pose additional challenges necessitating urgent and rational solutions.

  • Cuadrado A
  • Gaite LM
  • Odriozola A
  • Oloriz R
  • Herrera S
  • et al.
Rev Esp Enferm Dig. 2022 Aug;114(8):448-454 doi: 10.17235/reed.2021.8173/2021.
BACKGROUND:

the impact of the COVID-19 outbreak and lockdown on liver transplant (LT) patients remains unknown. The aim of this cross-sectional study was to assess the consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic on the physical and mental health of LT patients during the lockdown period.

METHODS:

a web-based questionnaire was emailed to 238 LT patients undergoing regular follow-up at our unit between August and October 2020. This pseudonymized survey explored demographic and lifestyle variables (i.e., eating and physical habits), disruptions in routine medical care, different dimensions of mental health, COVID-19-related mood and coping (worries/anxiety, depression, insomnia, fear of COVID, resilience, etc.) and health perception using different validated instruments.

RESULTS:

altogether, 48.7 % (116 of 238) LT recipients accepted to participate in the study, 104 of whom gave their consent to publish the data. The median age was 63 years. Up to 39.4 % presented worrying scores indicating moderate/severe generalized anxiety disorder (GAD), whereas 25.5 % exhibited moderate/severe insomnia and only 10.5 % moderate/severe depression. Forty patients (38.5 %) gained weight, 24 % experienced a worsening in their eating habits and 63.4 % referred to practicing less or much less exercise during the lockdown. Only 25 % perceived a worsening in the control of their chronic comorbidities. Missed medical appointments (0.9 %) or poor adherence to therapy (1.9 %) were exceptional.

CONCLUSIONS:

COVID-19 lockdown has negatively impacted the mental and physical health of LT patients. Long-term consequences remain unclear.