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Patient & her Mother (Renal Donor) are COVID Survivors
COVID Antibody Test and Vaccine for COVID-19 play vital roles in Transplants: say experts
Kauvery Hospitals, one of the leading healthcare chains in Tamil Nadu, successfully performed a kidney transplant on a 35-year-old woman who recovered from COVID-19 infection recently. The patient from Madurai, came to Chennai for effective management of chronic kidney failure due to IgA nephropathy (IgA antibody build up in kidney which affects the functioning of the organ).
“The patient was diagnosed with IgA Nephropathy where the kidneys functioning was deteriorating, requiring immediate transplant. The patients mother came forward to be the donor. All investigations pertaining to transplant were done and both the recipient and donor were found to be suitable. Meanwhile, the mother and daughter developed symptoms of COVID-19 with mild cold, fever and cough. Their CT reports were normal and hence were advised to be under home quarantine. After recovery they tested negative, and tests on their antibody levels showed good response in their response to COVID infection, indicating they were well protected from further COVID-19. We then went ahead with the transplant procedure,” said Dr. R Balasubramaniyam, Chief Nephrologist, Kauvery Hospital Chennai.
Kidney Transplantation is a life saving procedure which helps patient to survive when both kidneys permanently lose their ability to function.”Over the last one year, kidney transplants were not being performed as frequently as before, all over the world. Unlike any surgery where a diseased organ is removed like gall bladder, uterus etc, the diseased kidney is replaced by a new kidney in a transplant. Generally, our immune system identifies any foreign tissue, be it bacteria, virus or transplanted kidney, and tries to reject it. Towards protecting the organ from being rejected, we give them immunosuppressive medications. They suppress the immune system to an extent where the kidney is not rejected. We need to constantly monitor and check for infection and ensure they do not contract any new infection,” he adds.
The transplant community is worried about carrying any other organ transplant during the ongoing pandemic, across the globe. Only other transplants like liver, heart etc. which can be done through cadaveric transplantations, are mostly done as an emergency. “Kidney patients on the other hand, can be kept on dialysis, and transplant through living donor is not recommended as of now. But currently a few of them who are affected by COVID-19 have protective antibodies. And this makes it easier for nephrologists to perform the transplant. Very few transplants like these have been done in India and ours is one among them,” says Dr. R Balasubramaniyam.
Many people who are in need of transplant or on dialysis for more than a year run the risk of getting severe COVID-19 infection. “If a person has already has been infected by COVID-19 it is better to check for antibodies, and if optimal, get the transplant done. In other patients, it is highly recommended for the patients and their donors to take the COVID vaccination and gain the necessary antibodies. In this way, transplant surgeons can perform the surgeries without any worry, thus reducing the waiting time for patients. This is a great boon for kidney patients awaiting transplants,” adds Dr. R Balasubramaniyam.
A kidney transplant requires a good team of urologists, anesthetists and surgeons and also very good post-operative care. The transplant was successful and donor was discharged in 3 days and patient in 6 days. The creatinine levels also reduced, and there was a shorter hospital stay. With adequate infrastructure the team was able to provide excellent treatment and utmost care.
Speaking on the successful transplant Dr. Aravindan Selvaraj Co-founder and Executive Director, Kauvery Hospital Chennai says, “Transplants in the last one and half years have been a challenge and only those transplants that required immediately, were performed. Meanwhile, other patients continued to be on dialysis and waited for the pandemic situation to settle down, fearing infection. However, it is also to be noted that dialysis can be physically and economically challenging. I urge patients to consult with their specialists and also take the covid vaccine to protect them against severe and critical disease I congratulate Dr. Balasubramaniyam, Dr. Jeevagan, Urologist, Dr. Balaji Kirushnan, Dr. S Velmurugan and team for successfully treating the patient amidst the pandemic.”