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COVID-19 updates: April 4, 2020 new policy changes

COVID-19 updates: April 4, 2020 new policy changes

New policy, data actions approved to support transplant programs and OPOs

The OPTN Executive Committee, meeting by webinar on April 3, approved two new policy actions and additional data collection in order to provide additional support to transplant hospitals and organ procurement organizations dealing with the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic. These actions are the latest in a series of policy and operational efforts the OPTN is focusing on to adapt and respond to the COVID-19 crisis. The OPTN Policy Oversight Committee and other OPTN committees guided prioritization of the work that resulted in today’s actions.

The April 3 actions are as follows:

  • A temporary relaxation of data submission requirements relating to follow-up of transplant candidates and living donors
  • A process to adjust kidney waiting time initiation for candidates not currently on dialysis who are expected to be registered by a transplant program
  • Addition of data fields within DonorNet® to document testing for the COVID-19 virus

While the policy changes are briefly summarized below, members will soon receive individual system notices and relevant instructions with additional details on each action. More detail on each action is also included in the policy notice on the OPTN website.

The Executive Committee approved these actions on an emergency basis outlined in the OPTN bylaws; it will review each policy at each meeting to assess whether to continue them.

Submitting living donor follow-up and transplant recipient follow-up forms

The required submission of living donor follow-up (LDF) and organ specific transplant recipient follow-up (TRF) and recipient malignancy (PTM) forms due during this time will be suspended. This provision will be backdated to apply to all forms due beginning March 13, 2020, the date of the Presidential Declaration of an Emergency. It will expire on September 30, 2020, although the Executive Committee will review and may extend the time frame if needed. Recipient death and graft failure will still need to be reported in accordance with policy, though the deadlines were extended from 14 to 30 days. Living donor deaths will still need to be reported in the Protecting Patient Safety Portal in UNetSM.

Modifying wait time initiation for non-dialysis kidney candidates

If a kidney transplant program evaluates and intends to register a transplant candidate who has not initiated dialysis, but the program is temporarily unable to complete their registration due to COVID-19 considerations, they will be able to modify their candidate’s wait time initiation date later. This will be accomplished through a wait time application per the requirements in the emergency policy. Further information and instructions on submitting applications will be promulgated soon. The provision will expire on September 30, 2020, although the Executive Committee will review and may extend the time frame if needed.

COVID-19 infectious disease testing in DonorNet®

Data fields will be added to DonorNet® to indicate whether COVID-19 testing has been performed for deceased donors, with related information including test methodology and results. These fields will initially be launched as “optional” to allow visibility of all available test results while not interrupting the organ offer process.

New resources

View the UK National Health Service’s COVID-19: Clinical Advice.

Stay current

We will continue to update the UNOS COVID-19 resources page as guidance is developed and enhanced.

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