Lung transplantation fatal; donor was found to have corona

A woman who received a double lung transplant due to advanced COPD died of corona two months later. Research later showed that she had gotten the virus along with her new lungs.

This would be the first proven case of infection through a donor organ.

The case is published in the American Journal of Transplantation. This is an operation carried out at the University Hospital at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor. The donor, a woman who had suffered fatal brain injury in a traffic accident, had no medical history with corona or complaints in that direction before death, and a PCR test (on the upper respiratory tract) was negative.

For the doctors in the hospital there was no reason to believe that something was wrong with the set of lungs.

According to Dr. Daniel Richard Kaul, director of the hospital‘s transplant department, the standard tests did not indicate that there could be corona. โ€œWe wouldn’t have used the lungs if there were evidence for Covid-19,โ€ he said to Kaiser Health News.

The receptor, also tested negative for corona using a similar test, got her new lungs. The operation went well and the patient seemed to be on the mend for the first two days after the operation.

On day three, she had fever and other symptoms of illness. A PCR test initially did not point to corona, but after further examination of pulmonary fluid it became clear that there was a lung virus. In fact, it became clear that it originated from the donor lungs. Also one of the doctors who carried out the transplant became infected.

Further treatment after it was clear that the woman was suffering from corona, but did not turn on. Sixty-one days after surgery, she died. The also infected doctor is back on top of it.

Although no culpable mistakes have been made, the sad case has led to renewed guidelines and protocols. The most important of these is that the lung fluid should be checked for Covid-19 prior to each transplant, and the requirements for protective clothing are tightened.