COVID-19 donor testing requirement made permanent; other emergency policy actions extended
The Organ Procurement and Transplantation Network Board of Directors, at its Dec. 7 meeting, reviewed emergency policy actions adopted by the Executive Committee in March and April of 2020, which were enacted to help members document COVID-19 issues affecting organ donation and transplantation, and to help members focus needed resources on essential clinical services.
The board agreed to make permanent and mandatory a requirement for OPOs to document COVID-19 testing for all potential deceased donors. The board resolved that the following measures, originally intended to be time-limited during the pandemic declaration, remain in effect for now, subject to ongoing executive committee review for their applicability and effectiveness:
- Updates to transplant candidate data allowing transplant programs that are unable to bring a candidate in for updated lab testing due to COVID-19 issues to supply candidate data obtained through previous testing.
- Modifications to reporting wait time initiation for kidney transplant candidates who are not on dialysis, allowing programs to apply to retroactively initiate their waiting time.
- Relaxation of certain data submission requirements for follow-up of transplant recipients and living donors that come due during the COVID-19 pandemic. Graft failure and death are still required to be reported during the amnesty period.
Despite the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic, however, transplant programs have voluntarily completed more than 70 percent of the follow-up forms listed below during the period in which the data submission relaxation emergency policy has been in place:
- Living donor follow-up form (LDF)
- Organ-specific transplant recipient follow-up form (TRF)
- Recipient malignancy form (PTM)
This data is critical to understanding transplant outcomes and determining any needed additions or changes to policy requirements for potential donors and recipients with a history of COVID-19.
UNOS has prepared a report transplant programs can access in the UNetSM data services portal to view the degree of form completion their program has currently achieved under the emergency action, as well as comparative data to put in context with transplant programs nationwide. UNOS has emailed transplant program directors and administrators with a customized summary for their program. Transplant program staff may also access the report from the data services portal by selecting Data Quality and Amnesty Summary Report.
The board strongly encourages transplant programs to continue providing these forms whenever possible. In addition to deciding when to repeal the relaxation, the executive committee will continue to consider which data will require retrospective data submission at a later date.
Resource on COVID-19 vaccination
The American Society of Transplantation has published a FAQ intended to relay information on the current state of knowledge surrounding the COVID-19 vaccine. The document is subject to change and will be updated frequently as new information or data becomes available.
Dec. 30 webinar: “The Importance of Kidney Transplant and Referral Process During COVID-19.”
The End-Stage Renal Disease National Coordinating Center will host a webinar on Dec. 30 from 3 to 4 p.m. EST titled “The importance of kidney transplant and referral process during COVID-19.”
At the webinar, presenters Sini Tharu and John Valencia will:
- Convey the benefits of getting patients on the transplant waitlist during COVID-19.
- Discuss the impact that COVID-19 has had on the transplant referral process.
- Describe how a transplant center educates dialysis patients during the pandemic.
For COVID-19 related policy and operational questions, email [email protected].