COVID-19 Precautions for Transplant Patients

The well-being and safety of our transplant patients is always our top priority. Information related to COVID-19 is constantly changing. Please continue to check this site for the latest updates and information. Transplant-specific information will be updated here.

Contact Information

UW Health COVID-19 Hotline

For questions, please call (608) 720-5300

  • 8am-11pm, Mon-Fri
  • 7am-11pm, Sat-Sun

Video Visits

Download the Care Anywhere app to have a video visit through your computer, phone or tablet. Learn about Care Anywhere | Sign up

MyChart

Send a message to your clinic using MyChart. Log in to your UW Health MyChart account

UW Health Transplant Program

To respond to COVID-19 and shorten the duration of the outbreak, the UW Health Transplant Program is postponing non-life threatening, non-urgent surgeries, procedures and visits. We are reviewing patients, prioritizing needs and contacting individuals. We are choosing to delay some surgeries because it is safer for those patients and helps our efforts to respond to the outbreak of COVID-19. We believe that this step is in the best interest of patients, staff and the community during this challenging period. We realize these decisions may cause additional stress, and we thank you for your patience. This is a rapidly evolving situation, and we will reassess schedules on an ongoing basis.

  • We are accepting referrals to our program and are committed to providing the best possible care to patients.
  • Deceased donors are being screened and tested for COVID-19 as appropriate.
  • Recipients of anticipated transplants are being screened and tested for COVID-19 as appropriate.
  • We are temporarily suspending living donor kidney transplantation. Please recognize that living donation offers the unique opportunity to be flexible with timing. We are choosing to delay some surgeries because it is safer for those patients and helps our efforts to respond to the outbreak of COVID-19. We realize this is a delicate balance and don’t take these considerations lightly, considering the risk of ongoing dialysis and the risk of immunosuppressed patients potentially being exposed. We realize these decisions may cause additional stress, and we thank you for your patience during these challenging times. We will reschedule living donor surgeries as soon as we feel it is safe for everyone.
  • We are temporarily suspending living donor liver transplantation except in urgent, life-threatening situations when the timing of transplant is critical.
  • We are not scheduling living donor evaluations at this time. We will continue to contact these people to talk more about donation and to review their health history, as other priorities permit.
  • We are postponing non-urgent outpatient procedures and clinic visits. All previously scheduled clinic visits are being reviewed and when possible will be converted to either telephone or video-based consultations so that patients do not need to travel to UW Health. For patients who need to be seen in clinic for transplant-essential issues will be seen as scheduled.
  • The COVID-19 pandemic is reducing donation and transplant activity, which may lead to longer waiting times than normal.
  • Patients who have received permission to come to UW Health for appointments or procedures will be screened for COVID-19 similarly to all UW Health patients. Transplant patients with COVID-19 symptoms will be isolated in a separate area of University Hospital.
  • Patients who rely on NSAIDs to treat chronic diseases should not stop taking them without talking to their provider. Read more

Before You Arrive at UW Health

Transplant patients who are experiencing symptoms of COVID-19 (fever, cough, shortness of breath) or are concerned about attending upcoming appointments, should contact your coordinator via phone, or MyChart before visiting in person.

If you develop emergency warning signs for COVID-19, get medical attention immediately. In transplant patients emergency warning signs include:

  • Fever
  • Difficulty breathing or shortness of breath
  • Persistent pain or pressure in the chest
  • New confusion or inability to arouse
  • Bluish lips or face
  • Chest wall pain
  • Nausea/vomiting/diarrhea

This list is not all inclusive. Please consult your medical provider for any other symptoms that are severe or concerning.

When You Arrive

We are screening all patients and visitors for symptoms, and your temperature will be taken. For transplant patients these symptoms include:

  • Fever greater than 100.4º F/38º C
  • Coughing
  • Shortness of breath
  • Chest tightness
  • Sore throat
  • Other flu-like symptoms

Guidelines on Visitors

Visitor Guidelines for University Hospital and The American Center

  • No inpatient visitors will be allowed, except for healthcare decision makers and visitors of end-of-life patients.
  • No visitors for clinic appointments, except one support person can accompany a cognitively disabled or physically impaired patient.

Healthcare decision makers, support persons and visitors of end-of-life patients who are currently experiencing or recently experienced any acute respiratory symptoms, such as a cough or shortness of breath, are not permitted.

Visitor Guidelines for American Family Children’s Hospital

  • Two primary support persons per patient will be allowed in pediatric inpatient, surgical and clinic settings.
  • Patient siblings are not allowed.
  • Exception: There will be no limit to the number of visitors at the end-of-life patient’s bedside.

Healthcare decision makers, support persons and visitors of end-of-life patients who are currently experiencing or recently experienced any acute respiratory symptoms, such as a cough or shortness of breath, are not permitted.

Prepare for Your Needs at Home

  • Have enough household items and groceries on hand so that you will be prepared to stay at home for a period of time.
  • Maintain your usual 30-day supply, unless your refills are already prescribed otherwise. A 30-day supply allows all patients to have their required medications.  
  • If you cannot get extra medications, consider using mail-order for medications.
  • Be sure you have over-the-counter medicines and medical supplies (tissues, etc.) to treat fever and other symptoms. Most people that do contract COVID-19 can quarantine and recover at home.

Practice social distancing and limit your exposure to others

  • Transplant recipients are considered at higher risk of getting infected and having more severe symptoms from COVID-19. Based on recommendations from the Center for Disease Control (CDC) and American Society of Transplant (AST) we recommend recipients and their direct household members be considered for alternative work options that support social distancing.
  • Stay home.
  • If you must be in a public place, stay six feet away from others.
  • Find ways of getting food and supplies dropped off at your house through family, social or commercial networks.
  • Wash your hands thoroughly after all deliveries.

Have plans for contacting your provider and support network

  • Have a plan if you get sick. Talk to your loved ones about your plan, create an emergency contact list and identify aid organizations in your community.
  • Consult with your health care provider for more information about monitoring your health for symptoms suggestive of COVID-19.
  • Stay in touch with others by phone or email. You may need to ask for help from friends, family, neighbors, community health workers, etc. if you become sick.
  • Determine who can provide you with care.

Protection against respiratory illnesses

Transplant patients are among those at high risk of serious illness from an infection because their immune systems are suppressed. Patients and their caregivers need to take precautions to lower their risk of getting COVID-19. The CDC has specific recommendations for people at risk for serious illness, including COVID-19 infection.

Protect yourself from respiratory infections by:

  • Refraining from touching your eyes, nose or mouth with unwashed hands.
  • Washing your hands often for at least 20 seconds with soap and water or using hand sanitizing gel.
  • Engaging in social distancing – try to keep a physical distance from others.
  • Avoiding crowded areas, large gatherings and sick people.
  • Transplant patients are advised to wear a mask if they permitted to come to a clinic or hospital.

For more information on COVID-19 and transplantation, visit The American Transplant Society on Coronavirus