You may have heard that fewer liver transplants are taking place than usual because of the COVID-19 pandemic. We understand that this is a very worrying time for those who are waiting for a liver transplant.
The safety of organ donation and transplantation is a priority for NHS Blood and Transplantation (NHSBT), which is working to continue organ donation where possible, so transplants can go ahead if appropriate.
Professor Douglas Thorburn, PSC Support Expert Panel and Chair of the Liver Advisory Group for NHS Blood and Transplant, said, "The coronavirus outbreak is a very worrying time for everyone. This anxiety is even more acute for those patients and their families who are anxiously waiting for a liver transplant. The outbreak means that many hospital and intensive care unit beds across the United Kingdom are now being used to care for those affected by this pandemic.
NHS Blood and Transplant along with the medical team and organ advisory group doctors, have agreed that the donor acceptance criteria be reduced on a temporary basis. This has resulted in a reduction in the numbers of available organs.
It is important to highlight that liver transplant centres remain open and urgent transplants are still taking place.
Transplant recipients are considered to be an extremely high-risk group should they develop coronavirus. Hence, the balance of waiting until the risk of getting coronavirus is reduced versus the risk of undergoing transplantation now needs to be weighed up for individual patients.
It is essential that the public help relieve the pressure on our NHS by following the Government’s guidelines on social distancing and shielding to reduce the spread of Coronavirus so that normal transplant services can be resumed as soon as possible."