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COVID-19 update: June 17, 2021

COVID-19 update: June 17, 2021

COVID-19 action regarding non-dialysis kidney candidate listing to sunset Sept. 1

The OPTN Executive Committee, meeting June 14, voted to sunset an emergency action that allows kidney transplant programs to list non-dialysis candidates who qualify for a transplant and document at a later date the data that supports their registration. This provision will expire effective Sept. 1, 2021.

The Executive Committee approved this provision in April 2020 as part of a set of emergency actions to assist members during the COVID-19 pandemic. The committee reviewed activity data and heard feedback from the OPTN Kidney Transplantation Committee and from kidney transplant clinicians. It concluded that while the provision helped transplant programs focus on clinical operations at the height of the pandemic, it has become less relevant as healthcare institutions resume ordinary operations.


Conclusion of relaxation of data submission requirements for follow-up forms

Effective April 1, all required living donor follow-up (LDF), organ-specific transplant recipient follow-up (TRF), and recipient malignancy (PTM) forms resumed their expected submission dates as indicated in policy and will no longer be placed in “amnesty” status.

Beginning April 1, forms that had been placed in amnesty status between March 13, 2020 and March 31, 2021 were reset to their original expected date. Transplant hospitals are responsible for completing these forms by July 1, 2021. Find more details here.

Monitoring of transplant program functional activity and patient notification requirements to resume July 1

On March 25, the OPTN Membership and Professional Standards Committee agreed to resume monitoring of transplant program functional activity and patient notification requirements, effective July 1. All updates to monitoring changes may be found in a supplement to the OPTN member evaluation plan on the OPTN compliance page.

Updates to candidate data emergency policy to end July 27

Effective July 27, 2021, OPTN Policy 1.4.F will no longer be in effect. This policy was among the emergency actions adopted in March and April 2020. It permits transplant programs to report the most recent clinical data values available to support a transplant candidate’s listing or waiting time, if the program was unable to collect updated data due to issues related to COVID-19.

The OPTN Executive Committee voted to phase out the policy because use of the provision has declined over time as transplant programs have adopted new protocols to protect their patients during the pandemic. For additional detail, read the policy notice.

Joint society statement on COVID-19 vaccination for transplant recipients

Out of concern following multiple publications on post-transplant COVID-19 vaccine studies in solid organ transplant patients and the possibility that this will make post-transplant patients hesitant to get vaccinated, infectious disease physicians from AST and ISHLT collaborated to develop guidance urging transplant candidates to be vaccinated whenever feasible. Leaders from across the transplant community have expressed support for the statement, including AASLD, ASTS, ITNS, TTS, NATCO, CST and UNOS. Learn more.

Lower respiratory COVID-19 testing to be required for all potential deceased lung donors

Effective May 27, 2021, OPTN policy requires organ procurement organizations to perform lower respiratory COVID-19 (SARS-CoV-2) testing for all deceased potential lung donors and have test results available prior to transplant of the lungs. This will allow lung transplant programs to evaluate the risk of donor-derived COVID-19 for potential recipients. For updated policy language and additional information, read the policy notice.

The OPTN Executive Committee approved this policy on April 26, 2021 upon the recommendation of the OPTN Ad Hoc Disease Transmission Advisory Committee (DTAC). Multiple cases reported to DTAC in recent months demonstrated the potential for donor-derived COVID-19 transmission to lung recipients when lower respiratory samples were not tested and results confirmed prior to transplant. The DTAC developed the proposal in consultation with the OPTN OPO and Lung Transplantation Committees, as well as OPO representatives on various other OPTN committees.

The policy was approved as an emergency action because of its significant patient safety implications, including the risk of patient mortality. It will be submitted for retrospective public comment for the summer 2021 cycle.


Joint statement on COVID-19 vaccination in SOT recipients

The ISHLT/AST joint statement on COVID-19 vaccination has been updated to account for latest data showing that B- & T-cell responses in vaccinated SOT recipients may be discordant. Our recommendations on vaccination and safety measures have not changed.

American Society of Transplantation Spanish COVID-19 resources

Spanish COVID-19 resources from AST, including a COVID-19 Vaccines for Hispanic Patients and Transplants recording.

Pediatric Transplant Conference

Recording available from the inaugural conference hosted by Transplant Families.

COVID-19 information for patients

Find videos, FAQs, webinars, vaccine information and other resources for transplant patients at Transplant Living.


For COVID-19 related policy and operational questions, email [email protected]

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