The new recommendations aim to minimise the risk of infection for patients and living donors before, during and after transplantation. They emphasise the importance of communication between patients and their specialists to ensure they can make informed decisions and understand the implications of transplantation and donation during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The guidance recommends that patients scheduled for a living donor transplant, and their donor, must self-isolate for 14 days before the transplant, along with members of their household. This is to help make sure neither recipient nor donor has COVID-19. If a patient requires dialysis in the meantime, this must be done in a COVID-19 -secure environment.
There are also further recommendations on what to consider before re-opening or expanding a transplant programme. Access to rapid turnaround testing and COVID 19 -secure areas during inpatient stays are some of the recommended measures to help keep patients safe. This is also important as it helps reduce the risk to other patients and staff in hospital.
The guidance says that if a patient has COVID-19, they should be temporarily removed from the waiting list until they have recovered. Clinicians should notify NHS Blood and Transplant and the Renal Registry about anyone who has had a transplant or is on the waiting list who gets COVID-19.
NICE will also make the guidelines internationally available so that health systems around the world can see the approach that we are taking. The guidelines are being produced in collaboration with NHS England/Improvement and a cross-specialty clinical group, supported by the specialist societies and Royal Colleges.