The coronavirus pandemic has dramatically increased the burden on health systems in all countries, often leading to unavoidable adverse effects on other diseases. One of the areas that has been hit hard worldwide is solid organ transplants, as transplants from deceased donors are offered through the Coronavirus Intensive Care Unit (ICU), according to the National Transplant Organization.
He notes that, during the first 3 months of the pandemic (March-May 2020), solid organ transplants both in our country and in most European countries, decreased dramatically, almost to zero. This reduction was observed not only in transplants from deceased but also from living donors, in order to protect recipients and donors from possible coronavirus disease, a highly contagious virus, whose behavior and treatment were initially unclear.
Complete recovery of transplants in Greece
Today, having closed a year of intensive efforts to maintain the transplant activity, EOM announces a complete recovery of transplants in Greece. He emphasized that during the 12 months of March 2020 to March 2021, the total number of both organ donors and the transplants performed did not lag behind the activity of any other year. "This fact shows that the Transplant System (ICU, EOM, Transplant Units) showed rapid reflexes of adaptation to the new situation. In particular, the ICU and its staff have exaggerated themselves, keeping organ donation at the forefront of medical-humanitarian operations, despite the new difficult daily life imposed by the measures against the coronavirus and the dramatic increase of their workload ", the Organization notes.
At the same time, he adds, the field of hematopoietic stem cell transplants (bone marrow, umbilical cord blood) has not lagged behind in the slightest, despite the fact that cell transplantation has special requirements, both in terms of repeated control and preparation of to the smooth and timely cross-border transport of transplants, especially from foreign donors. "The Bone Marrow Donor Volunteer Centers, the Cell Collection Centers and the Transplant Units, worked continuously and in coordination, in collaboration with EOM and the Volunteer Donor Reservoirs abroad, so that no patient in Greece with such a need for a transplant , as well as abroad not to be deprived of his treatment, in the crucial period for his survival ".
As EOM notes, the sealing of this year's efforts came from the Vaccination Committee and the Ministry of Health, with the priority in the pan-Hellenic vaccination against the coronavirus of the transplanted, but also of the transplant patients, who have already been vaccinated and vaccinated. Early vaccination of this population, which survives with an artificially weakened immune system, was necessary in order to maintain the "gift of life" received from fellow human beings.
Transplant activity during the pandemic period
During the pandemic, 134 solid organ transplants were performed (87 kidneys, 31 liver, 12 heart, 4 lungs) from 52 deceased organ donors. Worth mentioning is the "record" of kidney transplants from living donors, performed during the 9 months of May 2020 to March 2021, reaching 90, a number of transplants that had never been performed before even in a year, according to EOM.
Special mention is made by EOM in the Lung Transplant Program, which started in July 2020 again in Greece, after 10 years. "Thanks to the coordinated efforts of the Ministry of Health, EOM and the Onassis Cardiac Surgery Center (OKK), but also thanks to the contribution of the Scholarship Program of the Onassis Foundation, for the retraining of Greek doctors abroad, the Transplant Program was performed again. 4 first transplants and being a milestone in the field of Health in our country, in a very difficult situation ", says EOM.
At the same time, during the pandemic, 121 bone marrow transplants were performed, more than the average annual number of the last 5 years (107 transplants), EOM emphasizes. It is noteworthy, he adds, that even under these unfavorable conditions, the bone marrow transplants from Greek donors continue to grow steadily, due to the continuous strengthening of the National Register of Voluntary Stem Cell Donors (bone marrow), as a result of the continuous activity of Donor Centers in terms of informing and attracting volunteers. It is noteworthy that, thanks to this unremitting effort, the National Register of Volunteers increased by 25% this critical year and now amounts to 195.000 bone marrow donors, thus expanding the chances of Greek patients to find a compatible donor.
The next day of the pandemic
"The long-suffering field of transplants has positively surprised us during this difficult period, as it is one of the areas that is likely to be strengthened due to the coronavirus pandemic and shows that it can be further strengthened by the expected reduction of coronavirus cases," said the EO president. , Prof. George Papatheodoridis and adds: "Due to the special complexity of transplants, but also the maximum humanitarian benefit they offer, the institutions and the human resources of our system have exaggerated themselves, with the result that organ donation and transplants are reversed. In this, the citizens of our country who declared themselves Organ Donors during this period seemed to follow us, perhaps because most of us now realized how interdependent our lives and health are ".
He also emphasizes that "the next day of the one year pandemic, finds us ready to welcome the National Transplant Plan, prepared by Professor Elias Mosialos and an international team with the decisive support of the Onassis Foundation, which will contribute to the further organization and development of transplants in our country ".