Woman undergoes renal transplant

Donor, recipient are COVID-19 survivors

A 35-year-old woman, who recovered from COVID-19 recently, underwent a renal transplant at Kauvery Hospital in Chennai. Her mother, who donated her kidney, also recovered from the infection recently.

The Madurai-based patient had come to Chennai for management of chronic kidney failure.

The patient was diagnosed with IgA nephropathy, which led to a deterioration in kidney function, necessitating immediate transplant. The patient’s mother offered to donate a kidney.

The hospital’s chief nephrologist, R. Balasubramaniyam, said just as the investigation to check for compatibility and eligibility was completed, the women developed COVID-19 symptoms. Their CT scans were normal and hence, they were placed under home quarantine.

After recovery, they were tested for antibody levels, which indicated “they were well-protected from further COVID-19. We then went ahead with the transplant procedure,” Dr. Balasubramaniyam said.

Ever since the infection, transplants had been put in abeyance across the world, fearing infection as the patients are put on immunosuppression drugs, he explained. Only cadaveric transplants are done as an emergency procedure. “Kidney patients can be kept on dialysis, and transplant through living donor is not recommended as of now. But currently a few of them who are affected by COVID-19 have protective antibodies. And this makes it easier for nephrologists to perform the transplant. Very few transplants like these have been done in India and ours is one among them,” he added.

The transplant was successful. The donor was discharged three days after the procedure and the patient was discharged after six days.

The creatinine levels also fell, leading to a shorter stay in hospital.

Hospital co-founder and executive director Aravindan Selvaraj congratulated the team of doctors who performed the procedure. and said: “Transplants in the last one and half years have been a challenge and only those transplants that required immediately, were performed. Other patients continued to be on dialysis and waited for the pandemic situation to settle down, fearing infection. Dialysis can be physically and economically challenging. I urge patients to consult with their specialists and also take the COVID-19 preventive vaccine to protect them against severe and critical disease.”

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