Utilization of COVID-19 positive donors for Heart transplantation and associated short-term outcomes

Ersilia M. DeFilippis, Brian Wayda, Anuradha Lala, Michael M. Givertz, Kiran K. Khush

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


Background: The safety and efficacy of using COVID-19 positive donors in heart transplantation (HT) are increasingly relevant, but not well established. The present study evaluated the characteristics and utilization of such donors and associated post-HT outcomes. Methods: All adult (≥18 years old) potential donors and HT recipients in the United States from April 21, 2020 to March 31, 2022 were included. Donor COVID-19 status was defined by the presence (or absence) of any positive test within 21 days of organ recovery. Donor and recipient characteristics and post-HT outcomes, including a primary composite of death, graft failure, and re-transplantation, were compared by donor COVID-19 status. Results: Of 967 COVID-19(+) potential donors, 19.3% (n = 187) were used for HT compared to 26.7% (n = 6277) of COVID-19(-) donors (p < 0.001). Transplanted COVID-19(+) vs COVID-19(-) donors were younger, but otherwise were similar. Recipients of hearts from COVID-19+ vs COVID-19(-) donors less frequently received pre-HT inotropes (24.1% vs 31.7%, p = 0.023) and ventricular assist device therapy (29.7% vs 36.8%, p = 0.040). There were no significant differences in any post-HT outcome by donor COVID-19 status, including the primary composite outcome at 90 days (5.4% vs 5.6%, p = 0.91). Among COVID-19(+) donors, the presence of a subsequent negative test prior to transplant was not associated with posttransplant outcomes. Conclusions: Our results suggest that carefully selected COVID-19 positive donors may be used for HT with no difference in short-term post-transplant outcomes. Additional data regarding donor and recipient treatments and impact of vaccination should be collected to better inform our use of organs from COVID(+) donors.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)651-659
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Heart and Lung Transplantation
Issue number5
StatePublished - May 2023
Externally publishedYes


  • coronavirus-19
  • donor selection
  • heart transplantation
  • infection
  • rejection
  • survival


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