COVID-19 Information for Transplant Patients
For Advanced Organ Therapies and Transplant Patients
We’ve resumed in-person clinic appointments, but many patients are still being seen through Video Visits. To optimize your video experience, please enroll in My Health Online and download the Sutter Health My Health Online app (Apple or Android). If you're having issues enrolling, your patient services representative can assist with other options.
COVID-19 vaccinations are in progress. Find out who’s eligible and how to schedule your vaccination by viewing our COVID-19 Vaccine Resources.
Please review our common questions and check back frequently for updates. View COVID-19 Resources for more information.
Frequently Asked Questions
COVID-19 Vaccine and Transplant Patients
The currently approved vaccines have not been specifically studied in transplant patients, but they are not made from live or inactivated viruses. Based on how these vaccines work, the American Society of Transplantation has provided guidance and recommends that transplant patients receive the vaccination.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention states that mRNA vaccines are safe and effective for preventing COVID-19 in the general population but have not been specifically studied in transplant recipients. Transplant recipients may have a reduced immune response to the vaccine compared to those without transplants, but there is currently no recommendation for a dose change or follow-up testing after vaccination.
We encourage eligible transplant candidates to be vaccinated as appropriate.
If you’ve received an organ transplant in the past, we recommend vaccination starting at 3 months after your transplant surgery.
COVID-19 Information for Transplant Patients
A group of clinically essential staff are on-site at the medical office building and hospital to care for our patients. Many of our nurses and administrative staff are working from home and will continue to answer your phone calls and My Health Online messages, review your labs, provide advice and refill your medications.
We are continuing to perform heart transplants, deceased and living related donor kidney and pancreas transplants, and liver transplants without any reduction in service. For our patients, the risk of health complications due to organ failure far exceeds the risks associated with contracting COVID-19 through the transplant process. All donors and recipients are being tested for COVID-19 immediately prior to transplant surgery.
You should continue to get your routine labs drawn unless your transplant team instructs you differently. Monitoring your labs routinely is critical to the continued success of your transplant.
Wear a mask and make sure others around you wear one, too. Practice physical distancing by maintaining a distance of 6 feet or 2 meters from others as much as possible. Wash your hands often using soap and water for 20 seconds. Remember to clean the ‘webs’ between fingers and thumbs. Don’t have access to soap and water? Use alcohol-based hand sanitizers. Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when you cough or sneeze, and put your used tissue in a waste basket. If you don’t have a tissue, cough or sneeze into your upper sleeve or elbow, not your hands. If you’re wearing a mask, cough or sneeze inside your mask. Avoid touching your face, particularly your eyes or nose, with your hands.
Yes. In general, transplant patients must always exercise caution about being in crowded situations. With the COVID-19 risk, we strongly recommend that you and your caregivers practice social distancing and adhere to your state and local authority’s public health orders.
The CDC recommends wearing masks in public settings, at events and gatherings, and anywhere you will be around other people. Effective February 2, 2021, masks are also required on planes, buses, trains, and other forms of public transportation. Masks or cloth face coverings should not be used by anyone who has trouble breathing, is incapacitated or otherwise unable to remove the mask without assistance. Remember that the face cover is meant to protect other people in case you are infected and does not replace other methods of reducing your risk of infection, such as maintaining a distance of 6 feet from others and frequent handwashing.
We recommend that transplant patients and their immediate household contacts avoid both domestic and international travel at this time.
Transplant patients have weakened immune systems and may be at increased risk for developing COVID-19.
Remdesivir, an antiviral medication that blocks replication of the virus, is the only medication approved by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to treat COVID-19, and it is currently reserved for hospitalized patients. Other treatments have shown promising results in studies and have received emergency use authorization by the FDA. These include convalescent plasma, which is made from the blood collected from patients who have recovered from COVID-19, and laboratory-made antibodies that can block the virus from infecting human cells.
There are many causes of flu-like symptoms. We recommend consulting with your primary care physician as soon as possible. Do not change your immunosuppression. Please ensure that you have adequate immunosuppression and other transplant-related mediations at hand.
Patients who develop respiratory difficulty should go to the nearest emergency room.
Your transplant physicians and nurses are available to answer questions and provide direction by phone and MHO (hepatology and cardiology only).
ACE-inhibitors and angiotensin receptor blockers (ARB) are medications that are used to control high blood pressure and to treat heart failure and other heart conditions. Currently, there are no studies to show that these medications are either helpful or harmful in patients with COVID-19. Furthermore, these medications are protective of heart disease, renal failure and stroke. Therefore, we strongly recommend that you continue taking your medications as prescribed and contact your care team with any questions.