Providing post-lung transplant care during the time of COVID-19
The COVID-19 pandemic is a public health emergency of international concern. Solid organ transplant recipients have been identified as being at high risk of acquiring the virus SARS-CoV-2 and having a more severe COVID-19 disease. This article describes the experience of the National Lung Transplant Centre in Ireland in changing established care pathways for lung transplant recipients during the pandemic. The innovations which were put in place to protect this clinically vulnerable group are discussed. With the advancement of technology and remote monitoring systems available, patient-focused strategies and community-based interventions were implemented. Additional strategies have been implemented so that the new model of care can be safely maintained.
The novel coronavirus caused by the virus SARS-CoV-2, since named coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) emerged in the Hubei province of China in early December 2019 and spread worldwide. As the number of cases and deaths attributed to this disease increased, COVID-19 was declared a ‘public health emergency of international concern’ by the World Health Organization (WHO) on 30 January 2020 (WHO, 2021).
As of 14 June 2020, the estimated total global deaths from COVID-19 had surpassed 420 000. As BJN went to press, this number had risen to 4 307 242 (Johns Hopkins Coronavirus Resource Center, 2021). Information from international healthcare centres, including the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), in the USA, was reviewed to assess the risk to transplant patients of acquiring SARS-CoV-2 and of developing severe disease (CDC, 2021). The CDC, among others, identified those people at a higher risk of severe illness, including older adults, people of any age with serious underlying medical conditions and solid organ transplant recipients. Lung transplant recipients were therefore felt to be at higher risk for acquiring SARS-CoV-2 and having more severe COVID-19 disease (Aslam and Mehra, 2020; Pereira et al, 2020).
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