50% patients in need of early liver transplant died during pandemic

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Hyderabad:50% of patients in need of early liver transplants died during the pandemic. Nearly 50 percent of patients in need of an early liver transplant, but who did not undergo the procedure due to fear of contracting Covid-19 or due to testing positive just before the transplant surgery, died in 2020, doctors said.

According to the transplant team at the Gleneagles Global Hospitals in Lakdikapul here, during the Covid-19 lockdown and in the subsequent months, a total of 48 patients were in need to undergo a liver transplant. Twenty-three patients were under regular medical supervision, they didn’t contract the Covid-19 infection and underwent successful liver transplantation, while seven patients with Covid-19 infection also successfully underwent a liver transplant and survived.

The doctors said that 13 patients died after delaying the procedure due to the fear of contracting the deadly virus or for associated reasons.

The remaining five patients though prepared for liver transplant surgery but got infected with Covid-19 and died in the pre-transplant stage. The main reason for these deaths being delay in transplant surgery rather than Covid-19 infection itself.

“When the condition of liver worsens, transplant is the only option before a patient, and any delay in undergoing transplant could be fatal. These patients and their family members delayed the procedure due to the fear of contracting coronavirus or other related reasons, and this delay proved costly for the victims who did not survive. It is important that people do not delay transplant when the liver condition worsens,” said Raghavendra Babu, clinical head and senior consultant liver transplant surgeon, Gleneagles Global Hospitals.

“Between June and December last year, we performed 30 liver transplant procedures at the Gleneagles Global Hospitals with 100 percent success rate. Among these, seven recipients and three live donors were Covid-19 positive; and in two instances, both donors and recipients were found positive for coronavirus. Hence, it is important for people to note that liver transplants can be performed on patients who are cured of the Covid-19 virus,” added Babu.

Clinical features of Covid-19 patients are highly diverse from pulmonary symptoms to neurological manifestations. Coronavirus positive patients admitted to hospitals have increased liver enzymes as a common problem, yet it can be rectified. Post liver transplant patients with mild to moderate Covid-19 symptoms are recommended to continue with immunosuppression medication. Considering these aspects, the patients must not delay undergoing liver transplant surgery in case doctors recommend it to be performed immediately.

–IANS

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