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Global impact of the first wave of COVID-19 on liver transplant centers: A multi-society survey (EASL-ESOT/ELITA-ILTS)

Background and Aims

The global impact of SARS-CoV-2 on liver transplantation (LT) practices across the world is unknown. The goal of this survey was to assess the impact of the pandemic on global LT practices.

Method

A prospective web-based survey (available online from 7th September 2020 to 31st December 2020) was proposed to the active members of the EASL-ESOT/ELITA-ILTS in the Americas (including North, Central, and South America) (R1), Europe (R2), and the rest of the world (R3). The survey comprised 4 parts concerning transplant processes, therapy, living donors, and organ procurement.

Results

Of the 470 transplant centers reached, 128 answered each part of the survey, 29 centers (23%), 64 centers (50%), and 35 centers (27%) from R1, R2, and R3, respectively. When we compared the practices during the first 6 months of the pandemic in 2020 with those a year earlier in 2019, statistically significant differences were found in the number of patients added to the waiting list (WL), WL mortality, and the number of LTs performed. At the regional level, we found that in R2 the number of LTs was significantly higher in 2019 (p <0.01), while R3 had more patients listed, higher WL mortality, and more LTs performed before the pandemic. Countries severely affected by the pandemic (“hit” countries) had a lower number of WL patients (p = 0.009) and LTs (p = 0.002) during the pandemic. Interestingly, WL mortality was still higher in the “non-hit” countries in 2020 compared to 2019 (p = 0.022).

Conclusion

The first wave of the pandemic differentially impacted LT practices across the world, especially with detrimental effects on the “hit” countries. Modifications to the policies of recipient and donor selection, organ retrieval, and postoperative recipient management were adopted at a regional or national level.

Auteur(s) : Russo, F. P., & al.