Coronavirus (COVID-19): the latest updates

Last reviewed: 09 August 2021

We understand that this is a very worrying time for those awaiting an organ transplant, and transplant recipients.

The safety of organ donation and transplantation is our priority.

We are working to continue organ donation where possible, to enable transplants to go ahead if appropriate.

Next steps for patients

1. Follow the latest advice from Public Health England and the Department of Health and Social Care

2. Read our joint statement with the British Transplant Society on COVID-19 vaccination for transplant recipients and patients waiting for a transplant.

3. Contact your transplant unit if you have questions about an upcoming transplant or need advice

4. You can also check our coronavirus and organ transplantation FAQs

How is organ donation and transplantation responding?

Every potential organ donor is being tested for COVID-19 and if someone has COVID-19 they will not be able to donate.

Although there is no known transmission of COVID-19 through organ donation, as patients who need a transplant have to be immuno-suppressed, any risks need to be minimised as much as possible. 

Deceased donation

Dr Dale Gardiner, National Clinical Lead for Organ Donation and Transplantation at NHS Blood and Transplant said:

We know this remains a worrying time for anyone waiting for an organ transplant. With a great team effort across the NHS, deceased organ donation and transplant activity continued for the most urgent patients during the first and second waves of COVID-19 and we have now returned to pre-COVID levels with all transplant centres reopening and once again, performing lifesaving transplants to patients most in need.

“We have learnt a lot from the first and second waves of the virus and transplants continue to be a priority across the NHS, with safety remaining paramount. We are not out of the woods completely, and it will undoubtably take time and a lot of effort from all involved to meet the needs of all those waiting for a transplant.

“During the height of the pandemic we saw incredible family support for organ donation with record numbers of families agreeing to donation and providing those waiting with life-saving organ transplants. This is testament to the strong foundation of altruism, and support for donation, across the UK. We hope to see this continue, particularly now the law around organ donation has changed in England and Scotland and the NHS continues on the road to recovery.

Living donation

Lisa Burnapp, Clinical Lead for Living Donation said:

“Living donor transplantation is now back up and running after the worst of the pandemic saw many centres having to make difficult decisions to pause their programmes or limit activity to urgent cases only due to the impact of COVID-19.

“The UK living kidney sharing scheme has resumed and every effort is being made to ensure that it continues to run smoothly after it was suspended during the height of the pandemic to protect both donors and recipients. Dates for surgery may be delayed while programmes fully recover.

“The transplant community continues to work together to restore services and resume ‘business as usual’ to avoid anyone waiting any longer than they have to for their living donor transplant.”