Published online Dec 27, 2021. doi: 10.4254/wjh.v13.i12.2161
Peer-review started: March 26, 2021
First decision: June 15, 2021
Revised: June 29, 2021
Accepted: October 17, 2021
Article in press: October 17, 2021
Published online: December 27, 2021
The coronavirus disease-2019 (COVID-19) pandemic greatly affected liver transplant (LT) centers. This is the first study to investigate the effects of COVID-19 specifically on LT centers and the adjustments made by them to provide care to their patients.
There is limited data on policy adjustments made by LT centers during the pandemic. Our findings can help guide transplant centers during future health care emergencies but also to encourage the development of contingency plans for possible future public health emergencies.
Our main aim was to assess the experience of southeastern United States LT centers during the COVID-19 pandemic. Specifically, we wanted to see how the pandemic affected LT centers and the adjustments made by the centers. We were able to realize these objectives.
We performed an observation, survey-based study using a 13-question survey. The survey was sent via electronic mail to 15 LT centers across the Southeastern United States.
Eleven of fifteen LT centers responded. 100% of centers made adjustments during the COVID-19 pandemic. Greater than 50% of centers performed fewer LTs. 100% of patients were tested for COVID-19, and most centers implemented a virtual platform.
LT centers varied in their policy adjustments during the COVID-19 pandemic. This was likely due to the lack of clear guidelines. Going forward, the transplant community should use this experience as an important learning opportunity and galvanize contingency plans for possible future public health emergencies.
Future studies should assess the most effective way to establish and implement clear guidelines to continue liver transplantation during emergency situations. Future studies should also assess which policy adjustments made during the COVID-19 pandemic were safest and most effective in continuing liver transplantation.