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People on Immune-Suppressing Meds Fare Equally Well With Severe COVID

Hospitalized COVID-19 patients who take medications that suppress the immune system don't have a higher risk of severe COVID-19 than those with normal immune systems, a new study finds.

Early in the pandemic, it was feared that people taking immunosuppressive drugs were at increased risk of severe COVID-19 due to their weakened immune systems. The drugs are used to treat cancer and autoim...

Demand for Liver Transplant Rises Sharply Among Older Americans

More older folks are winding up on liver transplant waiting lists than ever before, as obesity and alcoholism supersede hepatitis C as the main cause of liver failure in the United States.

The percentage of liver transplant candidates aged 65 or older rose from 9% in the early 2000s to 23% by 2020, researchers found. Most seniors' liver failure is due to fatty liver disease, in which exce...

More Evidence COVID Shots Less Effective for People With Weak Immune Systems

Transplant patients and certain other folks may need four shots of COVID-19 vaccine for optimal protection, new research suggests.

People with weakened immune systems who've received both doses of two-dose COVID-19 vaccines aren't adequately protected against severe illness. They should be given a third shot plus a booster, according to the study.

"These findings indicate that while...

Many Blood Cancer Patients Get Little Protection From COVID Vaccine

Anti-vaxxers felt their suspicions confirmed when former U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell died from COVID-19 complications in mid-October despite being fully vaccinated.

But Powell, 84, was being treated for blood cancer at the time of his death, and a new study reports that the COVID vaccines are producing little to no protection for some cancer patients.

Nearly 3 out of 5 bloo...

Doctors Report That Kidney Grown in Pig Worked in a Human

A kidney grown in a genetically altered pig functioned normally after being attached to a human patient during a groundbreaking procedure performed by U.S. doctors.

If the technique proves generally successful it could revolutionize organ transplant, greatly expanding the pool of available organs.

The surgery was conducted in September at NYU Langone Health in New York...

AHA News: Women May Be More Willing Than Men to Donate Organs

Men and women have similar reasons for becoming -- or not becoming -- an organ donor, according to a new study. Yet women appear more willing to donate their organs to family members or strangers.

The results, published Sept. 24 in the Journal of the American Heart Association, suggest improving communication among family members about organ donation wishes could help increase ...

Kidney Damage Another Consequence of 'Long COVID,' Study Finds

People hospitalized for COVID-19, and even some with milder cases, may suffer lasting damage to their kidneys, new research finds.

The study of more than 1.7 million patients in the U.S. Veterans Affairs system adds to concerns about the lingering effects of COVID -- particularly among people sick enough to need hospitalization.

Researchers found that months after their initial infe...

U.S. Kidney Transplant Outcomes Are Improving

Here's some hopeful news for those who have kidney transplants: Long-term survival rates have improved over the past three decades, a review shows.

"There has been a gratifying improvement in kidney transplant survival, both for patients and the kidney graft itself, from 1996 to the current era," said review author Dr. Sundaram Hariharan, a senior transplant nephrologist at the University...

FDA OKs Third COVID Shot for Vulnerable Americans

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration on Thursday authorized a third "booster" shot of coronavirus vaccines for people with weakened immune systems, as the highly contagious Delta variant continues to surge across the country.

Expanding the emergency use of the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines should help protect those patients who are considered most vulnerable to COVID-19 infection. The auth...

Need a New Liver? Your Survival Odds May Depend on Race

Black American liver transplant recipients have a lower survival rate than Hispanic or white patients, and a new study suggests that alcohol-related liver disease and insurance coverage are key reasons.

"Our findings are a huge wake-up call that physicians and other health care professionals need to do better in delivering equitable care," said study leader Dr. Brian Lee, a liver transpla...

FDA to OK COVID Booster Shots for Vulnerable Americans

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration plans on Thursday to authorize a third "booster" shot of coronavirus vaccine for people with weakened immune systems, as the highly contagious Delta variant surges across the country.

Expanding the emergency use of the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines should help protect those patients who are considered most vulnerable to COVID-19 infection and most likel...

Third Vaccine Dose Can Help Shield Transplant Patients From COVID

A third dose of a two-shot COVID vaccine significantly boosts transplant patients' protection against SARS-CoV-2, according to a new study.

"We knew from previous studies that two doses were not enough to produce a good immune response against COVID-19 in transplant patients," said study co-senior author Dr. Deepali Kumar. She is director of transplant infectious diseases at the Universit...

Hearts From Drug Abusers Can Be Used for Transplants

In a finding that could mean more patients desperate for a heart transplant get a new lease on life, two new studies show that hearts from donors who abused drugs can be safely donated.

In the past two decades, the U.S. opioid crisis has taken the lives of hundreds of thousands of Americans -- often young, otherwise healthy people. One result is that a rising percentage of potential donor...

CDC Advisors to Discuss 3rd COVID Vaccine Dose for Immunocompromised

Giving a third dose of COVID-19 vaccines to adults with weakened immune systems -- the immunocompromised -- will be up for discussion during a U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention advisory panel meeting next week.

At the meeting scheduled for July 22, the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices will focus on the 2% to 4% of U.S. adults with weakened immune systems. These i...

Immunocompromised? Why the COVID-19 Vaccine Might Still Protect You

COVID-19 vaccinations may not offer as much protection to people with compromised immune systems, but just how much appears to be driven by the type of underlying condition, new research suggests.

"People with conditions that compromise their immune systems exhibit a wide spectrum of antibody responses to COVID-19 vaccination, ranging from only 1 in 5 lung transplant patients having an a...

CRISPR Therapy Fights Rare Disease Where Protein Clogs Organs

Early research suggests that CRISPR gene-editing technology may some day lead to dramatic relief for patients struggling with amyloidosis, a rare but serious disease that can trigger organ failure.

"There are many different types of amyloidosis," explained study author Dr. Julian Gillmore, a researcher in medicine with the Centre for Amyloidosis and Acute Phase Proteins at University Coll...

Liver Cirrhosis Much More Deadly for Black Americans

Black Americans with cirrhosis -- late-stage liver disease -- are much less likely to receive a liver transplant and more likely to die than white patients, new research reveals.

For the study, researchers at Northwestern Medicine analyzed data from all cirrhosis patients, regardless of transplant eligibility, at seven large liver centers in Chicago.

Compared to white patients...

Innovative Kidney Donor 'Voucher' System Is Saving Lives

In the world of chronic kidney disease, the dilemma is not uncommon: A relatively young patient with kidney trouble may need a transplant down the road, and an older family member is more than ready to step up. But the need for a kidney transplant, while predictable, is not immediate.

So the older donor doesn't act. Given that donor supply has never met demand, the loss of a golden opport...

Many 'High Priority' Patients Aren't Getting Put on Kidney Transplant Lists

Many Americans who stand to benefit most from a kidney transplant may be missing a key window of opportunity, a new study finds.

The study focused on kidney failure patients who would be expected to live many years after receiving a kidney transplant. That generally includes relatively younger people without other major medical conditions.

In 2014, the U.S. kidney allocation system ...

Red Cross Warns of Severe Blood Shortage

There's a severe blood shortage in the United States due to a recent surge in trauma cases, organ transplants and elective surgeries, the American Red Cross says.

The Red Cross is appealing to Americans to roll up their sleeves and donate blood immediately.

"Our teams are working around the clock to meet the extraordinary blood needs of hospitals and patients -- distributing about 7...

Third Dose of COVID Vaccine Boosts Protection in Transplant Recipients

Researchers say an extra dose of two-dose COVID-19 vaccines may improve immune system protection for organ transplant patients, a group that's so far responded poorly to two-dose vaccines.

"Our findings suggest clinical trials are warranted to determine if transplant recipients should receive COVID-19 vaccine booster doses as standard clinical practice, similar to what is currently done w...

COVID Antibody Treatment Is Safe, Effective in Transplant Patients

Antibody treatments are safe and effective for transplant patients with mild to moderate COVID-19, a new study shows.

Monoclonal antibodies help prevent the SARS-CoV-2 virus from attaching to cells, which helps block the spread of infection.

The findings are important, researchers said, because transplant patients with COVID are more likely to be severely ill or die.

"Monoclon...

Old Age No Bar to Successful Heart Transplant, Study Finds

People over 70 are far less likely to be considered for or to receive a new heart -- even though new research suggests their survival rates after transplant are similar to those of younger patients.

For the study, the researchers analyzed data on more than 57,000 adults (aged 18 and older) listed as heart transplant surgery candidates in the United States between January 2000 and August 2...

'Breakthrough' COVID Infections May Be Common in Vaccinated Transplant Patients

New research suggests that many people who've undergone an organ transplant do not get an immune response from COVID-19 vaccines that's strong enough to ward off a "breakthrough" infection.

In a new review of 14 such cases, these breakthrough COVID-19 infections occurred in 10 recipients of new kidneys, two liver recipients, one lung recipient and one heart recipient, said a research team...

COVID Vaccines May Still Leave Organ Transplant Recipients Unprotected

Organ transplant recipients remain vulnerable to infection with the new coronavirus even after receiving both doses of two-dose vaccines, new research shows. That could mean they should continue following safety measures such as wearing a mask and physical distancing.

In a previous study, the research team found that only 17% of transplant recipients produced sufficient antibodies after a...

'Heart-in-a-Box' Can Be Lifesaving, Matching Up Distant Donors With Patients

A few days after his 74th birthday, Don Stivers received his dream gift -- a new heart.

"I was born with a very lousy heart," he explained. "Growing up, I decided I was going to overcome it and go to the Olympics and be a strong boy. And so everything I did was against doctors' orders. They said don't run, don't do this, but I did anyway, and I would turn blue and pass out, and my mother...

World's First Face Transplant in a Black Patient Brought Special Challenges

Robert Chelsea needed a new face, having lost most of his in a horrific Los Angeles traffic accident years ago.

But Chelsea is Black, and the process to give him the first-ever face transplant wound up posing novel challenges for his doctors, according to a new report.

It took four times as long to find Chelsea a suitable donor than it typically does for white patients, doctors said...

Patients With Sickle Cell Disease Often Overlooked for Life-Saving Kidney Transplants

People with kidney failure related to sickle cell disease are less likely to receive a transplant than those without sickle cell disease, but it could be life-saving for them, a new study finds.

Sickle cell disease is a risk factor for kidney failure, and adults with sickle cell-related kidney failure who are on long-term dialysis have high rates of early death.

Kidney transplant is...

Why Are Wait Times for Donor Kidneys Not Improving?

Despite widespread efforts to increase access and awareness, new research shows there's been virtually no change in the number of people on waiting lists for potentially lifesaving kidneys over the past two decades.

For their study, scientists analyzed information on more than 1.3 million adults with kidney failure listed in the United States Renal Data System from 1997 to 2016, and found...

COVID Vaccines Safe for Organ Transplant Recipients: Study

Here's some good news for people who've had solid organ transplants and have weakened immune systems: mRNA coronavirus vaccines are safe for these vulnerable folks, new research shows.

The study included 187 transplant recipients who received an initial dose of either the Moderna or Pfizer mRNA vaccines between Dec. 16, 2020 and Jan. 16, 2021.

The participants, median age 48, were r...

'So Happy:' World's First Hand/Face Transplant Patient Doing Well

Joe DiMeo's life changed forever when he fell asleep at the wheel on U.S. Route 22 in New Jersey on July 14, 2018.

The horrific crash left him with third-degree burns on 80% of his body and a grim prognosis.

Now, more than two years later, DiMeo, 22, is the recipient of the world's first successful double hand and face transplant, and on the road to recovery.

The historic surg...

Race Affects Outcomes for Young Heart Transplant Patients

Heart transplants may be particularly risky for young Black Americans, with new research suggesting they are twice as likely to die after they receive their new organ.

To reach that conclusion, researchers analyzed the outcomes of nearly 23,000 adults, aged 18 to 80, who had a heart transplant in the United States between 2005 and 2017.

Compared to other heart transplant recipi...

On Waitlist for Liver Transplants, Women Die More Often Than Men

Frailty may explain why women awaiting a liver transplant are more likely than men to become too sick for a transplant or die before transplantation, a new study suggests.

Exercise and a healthier diet may help narrow that gender gap, researchers say.

For the study, researchers followed more than 1,400 patients with cirrhosis awaiting a liver transplant from nine U.S. transpla...

Giving Back: Once a Lung Transplant Recipient, Now a Surgical Nurse

Nurses are known for being kind, caring and sympathetic, but Brianna Fogelman brings an uncommon empathy to her nursing job at Johns Hopkins Medicine in Baltimore.

Fogelman, 27, underwent a double lung transplant last year to treat a rare lung disease and returned this fall to work in the same hospital where she received her life-changing surgery.

"I understand how it feels to have ...

COVID-19 Can Damage Lungs So Badly That 'Only Hope' is Transplant

Case studies and autopsy results are confirming that, in some cases, COVID-19 can cause such severe lung damage that patients require a lung transplant to survive.

In a new study, researchers in Chicago analyzed discarded tissue from COVID-19 patients who had lung transplants and from patients who died of the disease. They found that COVID-19 can destroy the "fundamental framework" of th...

How to Be a Living Liver Donor

About one in five Americans waiting for a liver transplant dies before getting the organ. Their odds might be better if more people knew they could donate a portion of their liver in a process called living liver donation.

Doctors at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn., want to raise awareness of these living liver transplants.

"About 12,000 to 13,000 people are on the liver transp...

Allowing More Gay Men to Donate Corneas Could Save Sight for Thousands: Study

U.S. and Canadian restrictions on cornea donations from gay and bisexual men prevent thousands of vision-restoring transplants and need to be changed, researchers say.

A corneal transplant can cure some forms of blindness and visual impairment. The United States bans men from donating if they have had gay sex in the past five years; Canada has a 12-month restriction.

The sa...

COVID-19 Has Taken a Toll on Organ Donation

Transplants of organs from dead donors haven't slowed during the coronavirus pandemic, but living donor transplants remain suspended in many places, an expert says.

Dr. Fauzia Butt, a transplant surgeon at Penn State Health Milton S. Hershey Medical Center in Hershey, Pa., also said that organ donation and transplant surgery are safe during the pandemic.

"We've put protocols...

Hearts From Obese Donors Still Safe: Study

Hearts donated by severely obese donors aren't more risky for recipients than hearts from people who aren't obese, a new study indicates.

"These findings were somewhat surprising because the severely obese donors did tend to have more medical problems, such as diabetes and high blood pressure, than the non-obese donors," said study author Dr. Leora Yarboro. She's an associate professo...

New Approach Allows Safe Transplant of Kidneys Tainted by Hepatitis C

New hepatitis C medications are allowing people to receive a kidney transplant from a deceased donor who had the liver disease -- a strategy aimed at getting more lifesaving organs to patients languishing on waitlists.

Two new studies are highlighting the promise of the approach, showing that if patients are given the drug Mavyret, they can safely receive the kidneys and the organs fu...

Double Lung Transplants Save Lives of Sickest COVID Patients

Two coronavirus patients who became so sick that double lung transplants were their only chance for survival are now recovering from their harrowing journeys, their doctors report.

Mayra Ramirez, 28, and Brian Kuhns, 62, are the first known COVID-19 cases in the United States where such a drastic procedure was tried, according to their doctors at Northwestern Medicine in Chicago.

...

Woman With Severe COVID-19 Gets Life Saving Double-Lung Transplant

A young COVID-19 survivor received a double-lung transplant to save her life in what's believed to be the first such surgery in the United States, Northwestern Medicine doctors report.

Following her infection, the Hispanic woman in her 20s suffered irreversible lung damage and had to be put on a life-support machine that does the work of the heart and lungs.

"A lung transpla...

Life-Saving Organ Transplants Plummet During COVID-19 Crisis

The coronavirus pandemic has affected all areas of medical care, and a new study finds it has delayed potentially life-saving organ transplants.

Across the United States, transplants from deceased donors dropped 51% from early March to early April, amid the COVID-19 outbreak, the researchers found. In France, meanwhile, those procedures plummeted 91%.

Experts said th...

Kidney Transplant Patients at High Risk of Fatal COVID-19: Study

Because people who receive a donor kidney are often on immune-suppressing medications, they're at extremely high risk of dying if COVID-19 strikes, a new report warns.

The study, from doctors at Montefiore Medical Center in hard-hit New York City, looked at outcomes for 36 kidney transplant patients diagnosed with COVID-19 between March 16 and April 1.

Nearly a third of thes...

Are Immune-Compromised Kids at Greater Risk From COVID-19?

One of the few bright spots in the COVID-19 pandemic has been the perception that children are mostly spared from its worst effects. But what about kids already at risk of contracting serious infections due to a compromised immune system? Do they have the same protection?

"One group we always worry about when it comes to viral illnesses is immunocompromised children," said Dr. Reggie...

Second HIV Patient Reportedly 'Cured'

It was 12 years ago that a German patient was seemingly cured of HIV. Now doctors in the United Kingdom believe they've finally duplicated that success, this time in a 40-year-old Englishman.

Adam Castillejo was known until recently only as the "London patient." Now, after surviving years of grueling treatments, he says he sees himself as an "ambassador of hope" for others.

...

They Thought She Drank, But Her Body Actually 'Auto-Brewed'

Doctors thought they had a fairly common scenario in front of them: A patient with advanced liver disease who needed help for her alcohol abuse. Then they discovered her own bladder was making the alcohol.

The doctors, at the University of Pittsburgh, say it's a previously unrecognized variant of so-called auto-brewery syndrome. ABS, which has been reported sporadically over the years...

Bone Marrow Transplants Less Risky Now

The risks faced by U.S. bone marrow transplant patients have dropped sharply, a new study shows.

While this type of transplant can be lifesaving for patients with blood cancers (such as leukemia) and other diseases, there are potentially life-threatening risks, the researchers noted.

But the new analysis of 1,148 patients who had bone marrow transplants at the Seattle Cancer...

Are Doctors Discarding 'Injured' Kidneys That Might Be Used for Transplant?

Many of the donor kidneys that are discarded each year in the United States could instead be effectively transplanted, a large new study suggests.

At issue are kidneys from deceased donors that are acutely injured. Right now in the United States, about 30% of those organs are discarded, rather than being given to patients on transplant waitlists.

But the new study found ...

Machine Could Expand Pool of Livers for Donation

Researchers report they have developed a machine that can repair injured livers and keep them alive outside the body for up to a week.

They said the machine could one day increase the number of livers available for transplant and save the lives of many people with severe liver diseases or cancer.

Until now, it was only possible to store livers safely outside the body for a f...