Letter to the Editor: Transplant Recipients and COVID-19
March 25, 2020
Heightened health concerns are forefront in the news due to the current COVID-19 pandemic. This is not new to those of us blessed with second chances for life due to an organ transplant. We, as a condition of our great fortune to be organ recipients, are at elevated risk of infections from bacteria and viruses due to the immune suppression regime that we undergo to protect our life saving grafts. So, the CDC recommendations for hand washing, using sanitizers, cleaning contaminated surfaces and avoiding people who are obviously sick are normal activities for our transplant population.
These steps are not, always, easy to implement and we welcome the general population’s increased awareness and compliance with these steps. In all honesty, I feel safer knowing that these steps are being followed by the general population.
There is an acknowledgement that we are part of the “most vulnerable individuals” due to the increased risk of critical conditions and death due to an infection with COVID-19. All elderly and health compromised individuals are at increased risks if we are infected. So, what do we do, in addition to our normal hygiene routines, to deal with the COVID-19 pandemic?
Answer: We do what the CDC recommends in addition to what we normally do. We adhere to “social distancing”, avoiding crowds and being very aware of where we place our hands and bodies. We don’t shut down our lives any more than the general population during these dangerous viral conditions. We don’t panic and hoard masks, hand sanitizer or paper products. We keep close tabs on our medications, especially our immune suppressing drugs, to make sure that we don’t run short.
We celebrate the gift of life-saving transplants and live our extended lives joyously. We thank our neighbors and strangers in our midst for their heightened awareness of deadly infections and the “new normal” of everyone’s role in stopping contact contamination.
Jim Eastman, Niwot
American Transplant Foundation Mentor
National Kidney Foundation Peer
Donor Alliance Advocate
Kidney Recipient 6/29/17