COVID statement – January 2021
As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to evolve, organ donation and transplantation organizations across Canada, including Canadian Blood Services, are meeting regularly to assess the impact the virus is having on organ and tissue donation and transplantation. Together, we are continuing to develop recommendations that can be used by provincial organ donation organizations and regional transplant and donation programs to guide organ and tissue donation and transplantation.
Although most operations across Canada have resumed, COVID-19 has affected surgery wait times and schedules. Lifesaving organ and tissue donation and transplantation continues to proceed on a case-by-case basis. Decisions about whether to proceed with donation or transplantation may differ from one jurisdiction to another.
We are happy to share that our Kidney Paired Donation program is back up and running after a temporary pause in response to COVID-19. We are working with the living donation and transplant programs across the country to safely match donor and patient pairs to help enable more kidney transplants in Canada. Eye and tissue donation is also returning to normal after being briefly suspended or reduced in a number of jurisdictions. Measures are in place to ensure patients who need tissue grafts for emergency surgery will receive them.
Organ transplant recipients are, or are likely to become, immunocompromised, and may be at increased risk of more severe outcomes related to COVID-19. As a result, the decision to proceed with donation and transplantation must balance the risk the virus poses to potential recipients with the risk of delaying transplantation.
Undoubtedly this will cause concern for those waiting for a transplant, and for transplant recipients. As the situation is unique in each province, transplant programs are working with patients to provide information and updates. We recommend that transplant candidates and potential living donors contact their local transplant or donation program with specific questions.
The safety of patients and health-care workers is paramount. Donation and transplantation administrators and clinicians continue to monitor this situation and will update guidance accordingly.