Following the Coronavirus outbreak in March 2020, most UK transplant centres paused their programmes. At present 15 of the 24 UK transplant centres remain closed, including the University Hospital of Wales in Cardiff and Liverpool, where the majority of Welsh adults have transplant surgery. Kidney Wales is now calling for transplant centres to be re-opened as soon as it’s safe to do so.
For the 175 Welsh adults on the waiting list for a kidney from a deceased donor, and for those preparing for a living donation, life is currently on pause due to the uncertainty about when it will be safe to re-open the transplant centres.
The risk factors associated with transplant surgery and Coronavirus are the risk of infection of the donor; the general health and risk of infection of the patient; the general risk of Coronavirus infection and the availability of critical care beds and staff. Kidney Wales understands that the transplant team at the University Hospital of Wales is working to re-design the service in order to minimise the risk of infection during hospital admission and follow up.
Transplants are the best treatment for kidney failure. Approximately 80% of the people on the transplant waiting list are for kidneys and with the organ donation ‘opt out’ legislation coming into force in England on 20 May 2020, there could be more kidneys available to Welsh patients. Across the UK there are more people waiting for a kidney transplant than there are organs available, and so it is vital that services resume as swiftly as possible.
Judith Stone, Managing Director of Kidney Wales said “patient safety is the number one priority, both of transplant recipients and living donors. However Kidney Wales would like to see transplant centres re-open as soon as it is safe to do so; and when they do, for their to be continued good communication between patients, their families and transplant teams to reach a shared decision about the best course of action for each individual.”