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Coronavirus (COVID-19): the latest updates

Last reviewed: 17 September 2020

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 pleased to announce that deceased organ donation and transplant activity has returned to pre-COVID levels and all transplant centres have now reopened.

Next steps for patients

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

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

3. 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 at NHS Blood and Transplant said:

We know this remains a very worrying time for anyone waiting for an organ transplant. We are pleased that, with a great team effort across the NHS, deceased organ donation and transplant activity has returned to pre-COVID levels and all transplant centres have now reopened.

“Working with the clinical experts, we have sent out guidance to support our hospital colleagues in fully recovering organ donation and transplantation activity as well as to plan ahead for possible second surge in COVID-19. Using data collected by NHSBT, Public Health England and Public Health Scotland, we have analysed and reported on COVID related risks to organ transplant recipients to help inform and support decision-making between clinicians and patients.

“Even during the peak of the pandemic, we saw incredible family support for organ donation and life-saving transplants. This is testament to the strong foundation of altruism in the UK and we look forward to rebuilding this life-saving work as the NHS begins the road to recovery. Although anyone currently infected with COVID-19 cannot become an organ donor, the number of donated organs available for transplant is increasing week on week, and we hope to see this continue, particularly with the change in the law in England around organ donation.”

Living donation

Lisa Burnapp, Clinical Lead for Living Donation said:

“Living donor liver transplantation has remained open throughout the pandemic for patients who urgently need a transplant. In addition, all kidney transplant centres are now open and the UK living kidney sharing scheme will resume in October.

We understand that there has been a lot of uncertainty for patients awaiting a living donor transplant and for their donors during this time. Thank you for your patience whilst we have been working to restart the programme.”