Planting side victims of the epidemic


  • During the first wave, the decrease in the number of transplants increased to 31%.
  • There were 11,253 fewer transplants in 2020.
  • Kidney transplants were the most affected (- 19.1%), ahead of lung (- 15.5%) and liver (- 10.5%) transplants.

The hospital’s required efforts to combat Covid-19 have not been without consequences for other patients. Organ transplants are among the most commonly affected operations. A new study published August 30 in the journal The Lancet Public Health, states that the number of transplants decreased by 16% in 2020 compared to 2019. This could have led to a significant reduction More than 48,000 years of life were lost in affected patients.

31% fewer transplants during the first wave

For the study, researchers compared the number of organ transplants (kidney, liver, heart and lung) in 2020 with the previous year in 22 countries including 16 European countries, two in North America, three in South America and Japan. Taken together, these countries account for about 62% of global transplant activity. While the number of transplants usually increases each year, between 5% and 10%, there were 11,253 fewer transplants in 2020, a decrease of 16%.

During the first wave, the decrease in the number of transplants increased to 31%. “Particularly during the first wave, transplantation activities declined significantly, but it has not yet returned to normal, and this will undoubtedly take several years.Professor Alexander Lobe, a nephrologist, director of the Transplant Research Center for Organ Transplantation at Inserm, and lead author of the study said.

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Kidney transplants are the most important concerns

Kidney transplants were the most affected (-19.1%). This is explained in particular by the possibility of its postponement thanks to hemodialysis. Behind that we find lung (- 15.5%) and liver (- 10.5%) transplants. The smallest reduction is observed in heart transplants (-5.5%), and is often the most urgent. For patients, the researchers calculated that this withdrawal resulted in an accumulation of about 48,239 years of age, including 37,664 for patients with kidney disease.

The researchers noted that there were disparities between the countries studied, which led to their division into three categories. First, there are those where transplant activity has decreased even though the number of deaths from Covid has been low. This concerns Argentina, Chile, and Japan. Then there are those where the decline in transplants has decreased in tandem with deaths from Covid. The majority of countries, including France, find themselves in this scenario. Finally, there are those where transplant activity has decreased a bit while the country has been hit hard by the virus. Among the countries involved are the United States, Italy, Switzerland, Slovenia and Belgium.

Towards greater international cooperation?

This crisis could lead to greater international cooperation in the field of organ transplantation. “So far, organ transplants have been very well organized at the country level, but there has been little real international cooperation and data sharing, Alexandre Lube confirms. The pandemic was an opportunity to create a unique observatory led by our center, which will be preserved in the long term. This network will allow us to share our data, learn from each other, and organize ourselves to face other crises.

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