Organ transplantation during the COVID-19 pandemic – impact on deceased organ donor referrals and consent rates in the Western Cape, South Africa

Organ transplantation during the COVID-19 pandemic – impact on deceased organ donor referrals and consent rates in the Western Cape, South Africa
H Bookholane, T Du Toit, E Muller, D Thomson
South African Journal of Surgery, 11 April 2022; 60
Abstract
Background
The impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on transplantation is multifactorial. This study reports on its influence on deceased donation for transplantation in the Western Cape.
Methods
The volume of referrals and those who were consented for organ donation in the province in the pre pandemic period of May 2017 to February 2020 were compared to those of the initial pandemic period (March through December 2020).
Results
Prior to the pandemic, there were 201 deceased donor referrals in the Western Cape province – 152 (75.6%) and 49 (24.4%) in public and private sectors, respectively. The mean referral rates ranged between 59 69 referrals per year, translating into a monthly rate of 4.8 (range 2.8–5.8). During the first 10 months of the pandemic, there were 18 referrals – 12 (66.7%) and six (33.3%) in the public and private sectors; a decrease of 63%, with a mean monthly referral rate of 1.8. The overall consent rate prior to the pandemic in the public and private sectors was 36.6% (38% and 27%, respectively) with an increase to 44.4% (37.5% and 62.5%) during the pandemic.
Conclusion
Despite a 10% increase in consent rate for deceased donation during the COVID-19 pandemic, there was a significant decrease in the number of potential donors referred. Strategies to improve organ donation and transplantation during and after the COVID-19 pandemic are required.

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