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COVID-19 update: May 7, 2021

COVID-19 update: May 7, 2021

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

Effective May 27, OPTN policy will require organ procurement organizations to perform lower respiratory COVID-19 (SARS-CoV-2) testing for all 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, at a meeting April 26, approved this policy upon the recommendation of the OPTN Ad Hoc Disease Transmission Advisory Committee (DTAC). Multiple cases reported to DTAC in recent months demonstrate the potential for donor-derived COVID-19 transmission to lung recipients when lower respiratory samples are 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.

Summary of Evidence document updated

The OPTN Summary of Evidence on SARS-CoV-2 has been updated to reflect the adoption of the requirement for lower respiratory testing of potential lung donors.

The DTAC compiled this document to include the latest information known for minimizing the risk of donor-derived COVID-19 transmission while maximizing donor utilization. It has developed the summary in collaboration with colleagues representing AST, ASTS, AOPO, HRSA and the CDC.

Updates to candidate data emergency policy to end July 27

Effective July 27, 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.


Monitoring of transplant program functional activity and patient notification requirements to resume July 1, 2021

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.

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.

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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