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

MyChart

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Important information for transplant patients who test positive for COVID-19

If you test positive for COVID-19 or are sick with symptoms associated with COVID-19, notify your local doctor and your transplant team. 

Seek early treatment if you test positive. It reduces the chance of being hospitalized by approximately 80 percent. Call your transplant team before you take any pills to treat COVID-19.

If you cannot get treatment in your local community and you wish to try to receive treatment from our UW Health supply, please complete the online request form.

New treatments for COVID-19 are getting approved. While they offer hope, please be aware that drugs can interact with each other when taken together. The new oral drugs that treat COVID-19 will require us to change your transplant medicines to keep you and your organ safe. This is another reason why it is very important to tell your transplant team of ANY new medicine you are taking. Right now, there is a high demand and an extremely limited supply of all COVID-19 treatments. Priority for treatment is given to those at high risk of serious illness, including transplant recipients.

New COVID-19 Booster Recommendations for Transplant Patients

If you received Pfizer or Moderna as your first dose, you should get your first booster (fourth dose) 3 months after your third dose And you should get your second booster (fifth dose) 4 months after your first booster.

If you received Johnson & Johnson for your first dose and Moderna or Pfizer as your second dose, you should get a third dose (first booster)  of Pfizer or Moderna two months later And a fourth does (second booster) 4 months after your first booster

It can be difficult to keep track of the timing to know when you are due for another COVID-19 shot. The chart below can help.

If you cannot put your vaccination date in the columns of one of these charts, then you have not yet completed your COVID-19 vaccine series. View a pdf of the chart below

Eligible persons can schedule their appointment for a third dose of COVID-19 vaccine using this online form. No provider note or other proof of eligibility is required. 

Antibody testing for transplant patients who had COVID-19 or a vaccination is not recommended per the FDA and transplant professional societies.

To better understand the reasons for these recommendations, please review this information:

Protecting Yourself From COVID-19

COVID-19 continues to be a serious threat to transplant patients.

  • Get EVUSHELD, a monoclonal antibody that can help to prevent COVID-19 infection. It is given as two shots at the same time. Distributors (including UW Health) must prioritize their use of their supply of EVUSHELD but we hope to eventually offer this treatment to everyone who is eligible. The transplant team encourages all transplant recipients to receive EVUSHELD as another way to prevent COVID-19 infection. Ask your local care providers if EVUSHELD is available in your area.
  • Wait to see anyone who has symptoms such as runny nose, fever, cough, headache, loss of taste or smell, vomiting or diarrhea. Transplant recipients are vulnerable to others who are even mildly ill with COVID-19 or other illnesses. If you learn you were exposed to someone who tested positive, get tested 3-4 days following exposure, monitor for symptoms and contact your coordinator.
  • Consider asking everyone to do a rapid test before you spend time together. 
  • Continue to follow safety precautions (wear a mask, physical distance, wash hands frequently) even after receiving the COVID-19 vaccine. For more information on the use of masks and how to prevent illness, please see the CDC guidelines.
  • Avoid crowded indoor places where you must remove your mask. These include bars, indoor restaurants or large gatherings.
  • Get your lab work done as scheduled. Follow prevention guidelines to protect yourself while at the lab.
  • Have a plan if you get sick
    • Create your plan with your loved ones
    • Create an emergency contact list, and include your coordinator’s contact information
    • Determine who can provide you with care
    • Identify aid organizations in your community
    • Stay in touch with others by phone or email. You might need to ask for help from friends, family, neighbors, community health workers, etc.

Information for Transplant Patients Who Have Symptoms or are Infected with COVID-19

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.

If you are experiencing COVID-19 symptoms:

  • Notify your local doctor and call your transplant coordinator. Call your transplant team before you take any pills for COVID-19.
  • Monitor how you feel. Use this guide (pdf) to track your symptoms.
  • If you have an upcoming appointment, contact your coordinator via phone or MyChart before visiting in person.

Information for Patients Awaiting Transplant

  • We are performing transplant using organs gifted by deceased and living donors.
  • We are testing all donors for COVID-19.
  • All transplant patients must be vaccinated for COVID-19. Patients are tested for COVID-19 before going to surgery. We will not transplant patients with an active COVID-19 infection.
  • We have visitor restrictions to decrease the potential for exposure.
  • Patients who test positive for COVID-19 should contact their coordinator to discuss when it is safe to have a transplant.
  • We ask that anyone who will have direct contact with a transplant patient be tested, avoid exposure by following CDC guidance and get vaccinated.
  • Anyone who tests positive should not be with a transplant patient until they are fully recovered and have completed their quarantine per CDC guidance.
  • If you learn you were exposed to someone who tested positive, get tested 3-4 days following exposure, monitor for symptoms and contact your coordinator.
  • Prior to your appointments, please read the Before you Arrive section below.

Receiving care during COVID-19

We are monitoring COVID-19 data and adjusting our services as necessary to maintain a safe environment for patients and staff.

  • We are contacting patients regarding their scheduled appointments and to schedule new appointments. Patients should read and follow the Before You Arrive section information, below.
  • We are using virtual visit options and clinic visits to evaluate patients and maintain their care. Learn more about Getting Your Care Safely at UW Health During the COVID-19 Response
  • Potential living donors may consider remote options for portions of the evaluation process. Lab work can happen locally. As the evaluation progresses, we will schedule a visit at University Hospital for more tests and a physical exam with a physician. Donors who prefer to delay the evaluation process can discuss future dates. We recognize that living donation is a very personal choice. We want to answer questions and support donors while they make this decision. We will also support their choice.
  • Patients can anticipate a delay on follow-up to questions that are not of an urgent nature, including prescription related issues.
  • Patients who rely on NSAIDs to treat chronic diseases should not stop taking them without talking to their provider. Read more

Insurance Changes

Contact us if you’re experiencing health insurance coverage changes. This is especially important for patients on the wait list. If you are experiencing financial hardship due to the COVID-19 pandemic that is affecting your ability to receive your transplant medications or care, please contact us for assistance.

Email or phone a transplant financial counselor:
ADMtransplantfinancialcounselors@uwhealth.org
(608) 821-1555

Before You Arrive

We are screening all patients, visitors and staff for symptoms, and you will be required to wear a face covering in our facilities. If you do not have a face covering, we will give one to you.

Guidelines on Visitors

Please refer to our Patients and Visitors Guidelines page for the latest information.

Resources

United Network for Organ Sharing: COVID-19 Resources