Protecting transplant patients from COVID-19 leads to delays in life-changing surgeries 

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As the novel coronavirus wave started to roll across Canada, transplant centres had to make difficult decisions: how best to protect patients who need transplant surgeries and create space for COVID-19 patients.

Toronto General Hospital is the country’s largest transplant program and one of the top in the world. It is a centre for innovation and care for patients from several provinces, so the decision to scale back surgeries was difficult for everyone.

“When we do a transplant, we put patients on anti-rejection pills and that means really knocking down their immune system,” Dr. Atul Humar, medical director of the Multi-Organ Transplant Program, told Global News. “We’re very worried if we do that to patients, and then if they get COVID, they’ll end up with very, very severe manifestations of COVID-19.

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It also means that transplants patients could end up, post-operatively, in the same ICU as COVID-19 patients and there would be an increased need for ventilators.

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“It’s a really unique and unprecedented situation, so we’re trying to do the best we can. We’re taking as many precautions as we can,” said Dr.


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