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Lung Transplantation in Patients With COVID-19-The Early National Experience

      Lung transplant (LT) has become a viable option for COVID-19 patients suffering from end-stage Acute Respiratory Distress Syndrome (ARDS). This analysis sought to describe the early national experience of COVID-19 patients who received LT and compare transplant characteristics and short-term outcomes of COVID-19 and non-COVID-19 ARDS LT recipients. We queried the Organ Procurement and Transplantation database for adults (≥18 years old) receiving LT from January 2009 to March 31, 2022 with diagnoses of COVID-19 or ARDS. We identified 353 COVID-19 and 64 non-COVID-19 ARDS LT recipients. COVID-19 recipients were older (median age: 51, interquartile range [40-57] years vs 41 [26-52]; P < 0.001), more predominantly male (78% (n = 274) vs 55% (n = 35), P < 0.001), and had higher body mass indices (median 27.2 interquartile range [24.5-30.9] vs 25.4 [22.1-28.6]; P < 0.01) than non-COVID-19 ARDS recipients. COVID-19 LT recipients were less frequently reliant on extra-corporeal membrane oxygenation at 72 hours after transplant (26% (n = 80) vs 31% (n = 15), P < 0.001), and were less frequently dependent on dialysis post-transplant than non-COVID-19 ARDS LT recipients (14% (n = 43) vs 23% (n = 14); P = 0.01). Survival at 90 days post-transplant was comparable for the non-COVID ARDS (90%, n = 54) and COVID-19 (94%, n = 202) LT recipients with available follow-up (P = 0.17). LT appears to be a viable therapy for COVID-19 patients with end-stage lung disease. COVID-19 LT and non-COVID-19 ARDS LT recipients have comparable 90 days post-transplant survival.

      Graphical Abstract

      Keywords

      Abbreviations:

      LT (lung transplant), ARDS (acute respiratory distress syndrome), ECMO (extracorporeal membrane oxygenation)
      Unlabelled image
      Proportional Survival Post Lung Transplant for non-COVID-19 ARDS and COVID-19 Recipients.
      Central Message
      Limited short-term data suggests that lung transplantation is a viable therapy for COVID-19 patients with end stage lung disease.
      Perspective Statement
      Limited short-term data from April 2020 to March 31, 2022 for 353 patients who received lung transplants due to disease processes stemming from COVID-19 indicate that LT is a viable therapy for COVID-19 refractory to conventional care. COVID-19 LT and non-COVID-19 ARDS LT recipients have comparable 90 days post-transplant survival.

      INTRODUCTION

      As of June 2022, there have been 534 million reported cases of Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) worldwide, with over 6.2 million reported deaths.

      Times TNY. Coronavirus World Map: Tracking the Global Outbreak. The New York Times, January 28, 2020 Available from: https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2021/world/covid-cases.html. January 28, 2020. Accessed September 25, 2022

      In the United States, over 85 million cases and one million deaths have been reported.

      Times TNY. Coronavirus World Map: Tracking the Global Outbreak. The New York Times, January 28, 2020 Available from: https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2021/world/covid-cases.html. January 28, 2020. Accessed September 25, 2022

      The clinical course of COVID-19, caused by the coronavirus SARS-CoV-2, is highly variable. Severe cases (6-10%) can result in acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS), a condition marked by hyper-inflammation resulting in potentially irreversible parenchymal lung damage, thus severely impairing oxygenation and ventilation.
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      Known therapies for ARDS include supportive care, lung-protective mechanical ventilation, and veno-venous extra-corporeal membrane oxygenation in severe cases.
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      Since 2005, lung transplantation (LT) for ARDS has been accepted as a therapy for the most extreme or refractory cases of organ damage, with post-transplant outcomes that are comparable to other restrictive lung diseases.
      • Harano T
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      Lung transplantation for the treatment of irreversible acute respiratory distress syndrome.
      ARDS due to COVID-19 is a highly lethal disease, with mortality of patients receiving mechanical ventilation for COVID-19 ARDS as high as 40%.
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      Additionally, one third of patients hospitalized with COVID-19 develop pulmonary fibrosis, or scarring of lung tissue.
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      Post-COVID-19 pneumonia pulmonary fibrosis.
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      LT has also been shown to be a promising therapy in select patients with severe irreversible lung compromise due to COVID-19.
      • Bharat A
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      Early outcomes after lung transplantation for severe COVID-19: A series of the first consecutive cases from four countries.
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      Lung transplantation for COVID-19-associated acute respiratory distress syndrome in a PCR-positive patient.
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      Initial reports described LT as therapy for COVID-19 patients with no evident lung recovery as soon as 4 weeks after the onset of COVID-19 ARDS.
      • Bharat A
      • Machuca TN
      • Querrey M
      • et al.
      Early outcomes after lung transplantation for severe COVID-19: A series of the first consecutive cases from four countries.
      ,
      • Lang C
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      • Hoda M
      • et al.
      Lung transplantation for COVID-19-associated acute respiratory distress syndrome in a PCR-positive patient.
      Currently, there are more COVID-19 LT candidates on the waitlist than all non-COVID ARDS patients on the waitlist since LT started.

      National data - OPTN Available from: https://optn.transplant.hrsa.gov/data/view-data-reports/national-data/. Accessed September 25, 2022.

      Despite the use of vaccinations for COVID-19, new strains of the virus have led to a surge in COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations.

      Times TNY. Coronavirus World Map: Tracking the Global Outbreak. The New York Times, January 28, 2020 Available from: https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2021/world/covid-cases.html. January 28, 2020. Accessed September 25, 2022

      Current literature regarding LT in the setting of COVID-19 is limited. To date studies have reported on the preliminary experience of LT in the setting of COVID-19 in the United States,
      • Roach A
      • Chikwe J
      • Catarino P
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      Lung transplantation for Covid-19–related respiratory failure in the United States.
      have evaluated racial disparities in LT recipients with disease processes associated with COVID-19,

      Racial disparities in death due to COVID-19 persist among lung transplant recipients in US Available from: https://www.healio.com/news/pulmonology/20220510/racial-disparities-in-death-due-to-covid19-persist-among-lung-transplant-recipients-in-us. Accessed September 25, 2022.

      and have concluded that patients with irreversible lung damage to COVID-19 suffer high mortality if they do not receive LT.
      • Urlik M
      • Stącel T
      • Latos M
      • et al.
      Lung transplantation as a treatment for patients with end-stage respiratory failure due to Coronavirus disease of 2019 (COVID-19).
      Though LT has long been therapeutic for patients with ARDS, clinical presentations of COVID-19 and non-COVID-19 ARDS patients differ.
      • Bain W
      • Yang H
      • Shah FA
      • et al.
      Comparison of demographics, physiologic parameters, inflammatory biomarkers, and clinical outcomes.
      Moreover, while LT is established as a viable treatment for refractory non-COVID-19 ARDS, the differences in clinical presentation and outcomes of COVID-19 and non-COVID-19 ARDS LT recipients have not been well described but can guide future practice. The primary aim of this analysis is to describe the early national experience of COVID-19 patients who received LT. The secondary aim of this paper is to compare pre-transplant disease characteristics, clinical variables, and perioperative and short-term outcomes of patients receiving LT as therapy for COVID-19 vs non-COVID-19 ARDS. We hypothesize that LT is a viable therapy for individuals suffering from COVID-19 refractory to conventional medical treatment, and that despite differing pre-transplant presentations, post-operative outcomes of LT for COVID-19 and non-COVID-19 ARDS are similar.

      MATERIALS AND METHODS

      We retrospectively queried the Organ Procurement and Transplantation Network (OPTN) database, which is a national transplant database administered by the United Network of Organ Sharing. With the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, 2 new options were added to the category of Group D restrictive lung disease: COVID-19 ARDS and COVID-19 fibrosis.

      Incorporating COVID-19 Related Organ Failure In Candidate Listings - OPTN Available from: https://optn.transplant.hrsa.gov/policies-bylaws/public-comment/incorporating-covid-19-related-organ-failure-in-candidate-listings/. Accessed September 25, 2022.

      We included for analysis adults (≥18 years of age) who received LT from January 2009 to March 31, 2022 with primary diagnoses of ARDS (non-COVID-19; diagnosis code 402). We also queried the OPTN database for adults (≥18 years of age) who received LT from March 13, 2020 (the announcement of the COVID-19 national emergency)

      House TW. Notice on the Continuation of the National Emergency Concerning the Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) Pandemic. The White House. Available from: https://www.whitehouse.gov/briefing-room/presidential-actions/2022/02/18/notice-on-the-continuation-of-the-national-emergency-concerning-the-coronavirus-disease-2019-covid-19-pandemic-2/. 2022. Accessed September 25, 2022.

      and March 31, 2022 with primary diagnoses of COVID-19 (diagnosis codes 1616 [COVID-19 ARDS] or 1617 [COVID-19 pulmonary fibrosis], or presence of “COVID” in the open text of the diagnosis variable DIAG_OSTXT). This study was approved by the local institutional review board (IRB00254563) and conducted in compliance with the International Society for Heart and Lung Transplantation Ethics Statement.
      Recipient descriptive variables included in this analysis were age at listing, gender, race, body mass index, history of previous malignancy, diabetes, cigarette use, prior cardiac surgery, Lung Allocation Score at listing, Lung Allocation Score at transplant, use of ventilatory support at transplant, use of extra-corporeal membrane oxygenation (ECMO) at listing and transplant, receipt of pre-transplant tracheostomy, and type of transplant (single or double). Pre-transplant clinical variables included donor age, recipient mean arterial pressure at transplant, ischemic time, recipient functional status at listing, recipient functional status at transplant, total days on the waiting list, receipt of pre-transplant dialysis since listing, and receipt of transfusions since listing. Perioperative outcomes data included recipient use of ECMO at 72 hours after transplant, length of stay from transplant to discharge, recipient stroke post-transplant, and recipient dialysis post-transplant.
      Our primary outcome was 90-day survival. Post-transplant survival was displayed as Kaplan-Meier survival curves. Log rank-testing stratified by diagnosis (non-COVID-19 ARDS vs COVID-19) was used to assess post-transplant mortality. Individuals with either no follow-up, or follow-up less than 90 days following transplant were excluded from the survival analysis. Patients who received LT through December 31, 2021 were considered in the 90-day follow-up analysis, and patients who received LT through February 28, 2022 were included in the 30-day follow-up analysis.

      Statistical Analysis

      Descriptive characteristics, pre-transplant clinical variables, and perioperative outcomes data were compared for the COVID-19 and non COVID-19 ARDS patient groups using chi-squared analyses for categorical variables and Wilcoxon signed-rank tests for continuous variables. Statistical significance was set at P < 0.05 (2-tailed). All analyses were performed using STATA software (Stata Statistical Software: Release 15. College Station, TX: StataCorp LLC).

      RESULTS

      Study Population

      We identified 67 LT recipients with a primary diagnosis of ARDS from 2009 to March 2022 and 356 LT recipients with a primary diagnosis of COVID-19 in the first 2 years of the pandemic. Three ARDS and 3 COVID-19 patients received simultaneous heart and lung transplants and were excluded from the analysis, leaving a sample population of 64 ARDS and 353 COVID-19 LT recipients. Of the COVID-19 patients, 61% (n = 215) had a diagnosis of COVID-19 ARDS, 37% (n = 131) had a diagnosis of COVID-19 fibrosis, and 2% (n = 7) had a non-specific diagnosis of COVID-19 (Fig. 1). The incidence of LT for ARDS was highest in 2020 (Fig. 2), while the incidence of LT for COVID-19 was highest in March and April of 2021 (Fig. 3).
      Figure 1
      Figure 1Patient inclusion criteria. The blue boxes identify our final study population, comprised of lung transplant recipients with a diagnosis of non-COVID-19 Acute Respiratory Distress Syndrome (ARDS) and of lung transplant recipients with a diagnosis of COVID-19. The yellow boxes identify the sub-diagnoses of the COVID-19 Lung Transplant recipients, which includes COVID-19 ARDS and COVID-19 Fibrosis.
      Figure 2
      Figure 2Incidence of lung transplantation for non-COVID-19 acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS) over time. The incidence of lung transplantation for non-COVID-19 ARDS increased substantially in 2018 and 2019, and peaked in 2020.
      Figure 3
      Figure 3Incidence of lung transplantation for COVID-19 over the course of the pandemic. The incidence of lung transplantation for COVID-19 was highest in March and April of 2021.

      NON-COVID ARDS VS COVID ANALYSIS

      Patient Descriptive Characteristics

      LT recipients with a primary diagnosis of COVID-19 were older (median age: 51, interquartile range, IQR [40-57] years vs 41 [26-52]; P < 0.001) and more predominantly male (78% (n = 274) vs 55% (n = 35), P < 0.001) than LT recipients with a primary diagnosis of non-COVID ARDS (Table 1). COVID-19 LT recipients had higher body mass indices at time of listing than did non-COVID 19 ARDS LT recipients (median 27.1 IQR [24.4-30.6] vs 25.4 [20.9-28.6]; P < 0.01) (Table 1). LT recipients with a diagnosis of COVID-19 ARDS were less frequently dependent on ECMO at listing (51% (n = 171) vs 83% (n = 53); P < 0.001) and at transplant (56% (n = 196) vs 80% (n = 51); P < 0.001) than were non-COVID-19 ARDS LT recipients (Table 1).
      Table 1Descriptive Characteristics and Dependence on Ventilation/ECMO, Non-COVID-19 ARDS vs All COVID-19 Patients
      Characteristic, n (%)Non-COVID-19 ARDS Patients (N = 64)COVID-19 Patients (N = 353)P-value
      Recipient age at listing in y, median (IQR)41 (26-52)51 (40-57)<0.001
      Significant at P < 0.05.
      Recipient female gender29 (45)79 (22)<0.001
      Significant at P < 0.05.
      Race
       White33 (52)183 (52)0.97
       Black9 (14)29 (8)0.13
       Hispanic16 (25)110 (31)0.32
       Other22 (34)141 (40)0.40
      Recipient BMI, median (IQR)25.4 (20.9-28.6)27.1 (24.4-30.6)<0.01
      Significant at P < 0.05.
      Previous malignancy3 (5)20 (6)0.75
      Diabetic11 (17)81 (23)0.31
      Recipient history of cigarette use13 (20)84 (24)0.54
      Recipient prior cardiac surgery (non-transplant)3 (5)8 (2)0.49
      Initial calculated lung allocation score, median (IQR)87.6 (79.3-89.4)87.0 (64.9-89.6)0.95
      Lung allocation score at transplant, median (IQR)88.6 (86.5-90.0)88.0 (79.1-90.3)0.30
      Patient on ventilator support at transplant33 (52)164 (46)0.45
      Recipient ECMO at listing53 (83)179 (51)<0.001
      Significant at P < 0.05.
      Recipient on life support ECMO at transplant51 (80)196 (56)<0.001
      Significant at P < 0.05.
      Pre-transplant tracheostomy28 (46)135 (42)0.58
      Type of transplant0.36
       Double61 (95)325 (92)
       Single3 (5)28 (8)
      BMI, body mass index; ECMO, extracorporeal membrane oxygenation.
      low asterisk Significant at P < 0.05.

      Pre-Transplant Clinical Variables

      LT recipients with a primary diagnosis of COVID-19 had a slightly improved functional status at listing (P < 0.001) and time of transplant (P < 0.001), and experienced slightly lower arterial pressures at transplant (median 25 mm Hg IQR [20-30] vs 36 [23-47]; P < 0.001) than did non-COVID-19 ARDS LT recipients (Table 2).
      Table 2Pre-Transplant Clinical Variables, Non-COVID-19 ARDS vs All COVID-19 Cohorts
      Characteristic, n (%)Non-COVID-19 ARDS Patients (N = 64)COVID-19 Patients (N = 353)P-value
      Recipient functional status at time of listing (Karnofsky Scale)
       10% - Moribund, fatal processes progressing rapidly20 (31)41 (12)<0.001
      Significant at P < 0.05.
       20% - Very sick, hospitalization necessary:  active treatment necessary28 (44)189 (54)
       Other16 (25)122 (35)
      Recipient functional status at transplant (Karnofsky Scale)<0.001
      Significant at P < 0.05.
       10% - Moribund, fatal processes progressing rapidly30 (49)41 (13)
       20% - Very sick,  hospitalization necessary:  active treatment necessary22 (36)176 (55)
       Other9 (14)104 (30)
      Total d on waiting list (including inactive time), median (IQR)7.0 (4.0-29.5)11.0 (6.0-26.0)0.05
      Recipient pre-transplant dialysis - since listing4 (7)15 (5)0.06
      Number of recipients receiving transfusions - since listing28 (46)123 (38)0.02
      Significant at P < 0.05.
      Donor age in y, median (IQR)32 (24-49)33 (24-43)0.53
      Recipient pulmonary arterial pressure mm Hg at transplant, median (IQR)36 (23-47)25 (20-30)<0.001
      Significant at P < 0.05.
      Ischemic time in h, median (IQR)5.3 (5.0- 6.7)5.8 (5.0-6.9)0.33
      low asterisk Significant at P < 0.05.

      Perioperative Outcomes Data and Short-Term Survival

      COVID-19 LT recipients were less frequently reliant on ECMO at 72 hours after transplant (26% (n = 80) vs 31% (n = 15), P < 0.001) and were less frequently dependent on dialysis post-transplant than non-COVID-19 ARDS LT recipients (14% (n = 43) vs 23% (n = 14); P = 0.01) (Table 3).
      Table 3Perioperative Outcomes Data, Non-COVID-19 ARDS vs All COVID-19 Cohorts
      Characteristic, n (%)Non-COVID-19 ARDS Patients (N = 64)COVID-19 Patients (N = 353)P-value
      Recipient ECMO at 72 h After Transplant15 (31)80 (26)<0.001
      Significant at P < 0.05.
      Length of stay Tx to discharge in d, median (IQR)32.0 (22.0-53.0)26.0 (18.0-45.0)0.08
      Recipient stroke post-transplant1 (2)7 (2)0.71
      Recipient dialysis post-transplant14 (23)43 (14)0.01
      Significant at P < 0.05.
      Patients eligible for 30 d survival analysis63339
      Patients with available 30 d survival data60 (95)281 (83)
      Patients alive at 30 d post-transplant56 (93)273 (97)0.30
      Patients eligible for 90 d survival analysis60288
      Patients with available 90 d survival data60 (100)214 (74)
      Patients alive at 90 d post-transplant54 (90)202 (94)0.17
      ECMO, extracorporeal membrane oxygenation.
      low asterisk Significant at P < 0.05.
      Of the ARDS LT recipients, 63 patients were eligible for the 30-day survival analysis, and 60 patients were eligible for the 90-day survival analysis. Rates of follow-up for the ARDS LT recipients at 30 days and 90 days post-transplant were 95% (n = 60) and 100% (n = 60); survival at 30 days was 93% (n = 56), and survival at 90 days was 90% (n = 54) (Table 3, Fig. 4).
      Figure 4
      Figure 4Proportional survival post lung-transplant. Proportional survival following lung transplant is graphed in blue for lung transplant recipients with a diagnosis of non-COVID-19 Acute Respiratory Distress Syndrome. The shaded blue region represents the 95% Confidence Interval. Proportional survival following lung transplant is graphed in red for lung transplant recipients with a diagnosis of COVID-19. The shaded red region represents the 95% Confidence Interval. Survival 90-days post-transplant is not statistically significantly different for the 2 patient cohorts (P = 0.17). (Color version of figure is available online.)
      Of the COVID-19 LT recipients, 339 patients were eligible for the 30-day survival analysis, and 288 patients were eligible for the 90-day survival analysis. Rates of follow-up for the COVID-19 LT recipients at 30 days and 90 days post-transplant were 83% (n = 281) and 74% (n = 214); survival at 30 days was 97% (n = 273), and survival at 90 days was 94% (n = 202) (Table 3, Fig. 4, Fig. 5, Video Abstract).
      Figure 5
      Figure 5Graphical abstract- lung transplantation in patients with COVID-19, the early national experience.
      Survival at 90 days post-transplant was not statistically significantly different between the non-COVID-19 ARDS and COVID-19 LT recipients (P = 0.17) (Fig. 4).

      DISCUSSION

      Using a national transplant database we identified 353 patients with COVID-19 who received lung transplants from August 16, 2020 to March 31, 2022. Of these patients, 61% presented with a primary diagnosis of COVID-19 ARDS, 37% with a primary diagnosis of COVID-19 fibrosis, and 2% with nondescript COVID-19 indications. This analysis sought to compare descriptive characteristics, pre-operative clinical variables, and perioperative and short-term outcomes of non-COVID-19 ARDS and COVID-19 LT recipients.
      We found that COVID-19 LT recipients were older, more predominantly male, had a better functional status, and were less frequently dependent on ECMO at the time of listing and transplant than their ARDS counterparts. The discrepancy in age and gender in the ARDS and COVID-19 LT recipients is likely a consequence of the differential baseline characteristics of critically-ill ARDS and COVID-19 patients, and is in agreement with prior literature. A previous study comparing COVID-19 ARDS and non-COVID-19 ARDS patients receiving mechanical ventilation similarly found that COVID-19 ARDS patients were slightly older and more predominantly male than non-COVID-19 ARDS counterparts.
      • Sjoding MW
      • Admon AJ
      • Saha AK
      • et al.
      Comparing clinical features and outcomes in mechanically ventilated patients with COVID-19 and the acute respiratory distress syndrome.
      Another study identified older age as a risk factor for the development of COVID-19 ARDS,
      • Wu C
      • Chen X
      • Cai Y
      • et al.
      Risk factors associated with acute respiratory distress syndrome and death in patients with Coronavirus disease 2019 Pneumonia in Wuhan, China.
      possibly contributing to this difference in age between the LT patient cohorts. The worsened functional status of non-COVID-19 ARDS patients at the time of listing and transplant is likely a consequence of the chronicity of COVID-19 ARDS, with non-COVID-19 ARDS patients having a longer disease course and COVID-19 patients having more acute to sub-acute symptoms.
      We report slight differences in the post-operative course of COVID-19 and non-COVID19 ARDS LT recipients within the context of overall similar post-operative length of hospitalization. COVID-19 patients were less frequently dependent on ECMO 72 hours post-transplant, and on dialysis post-operatively. Though COVID-19 impacts multiple organ systems,
      • Mokhtari T
      • Hassani F
      • Ghaffari N
      • et al.
      COVID-19 and multiorgan failure: A narrative review on potential mechanisms.
      ,
      • Zaim S
      • Chong JH
      • Sankaranarayanan V
      • et al.
      COVID-19 and multiorgan response.
      the more rapid onset and progression of COVID-19 is likely responsible for the increased post-operative stability of COVID-19 LT recipients, relative to non-COVID-19 ARDS counterparts. Similar post-operative hospital stays to non-COVID-19 ARDS LT recipients suggest that the mild differences in post-operative courses in the 2 patient cohorts did not significantly impact post-transplant recovery. Though limited follow-up data exists for the COVID-19 LT recipients, the available data revealed a high 90-day survival of 94% for this patient cohort, indicating stable post-transplant recovery of COVID-19 LT recipients. Moreover, post-transplant survival among COVID-19 LT recipients was comparable to that of non-COVID-19 ARDS LT recipients.
      This analysis has several limitations. Firstly, the retrospective nature of this database is susceptible to selection bias and does not allow for causal inference. In this study, ARDS lung transplant cases were collected from 2009 to 2022. It is likely that changes in technique/care made over this time period could have biased our findings. Additionally, while the patients in the non-COVID ARDS cohort experienced the same disease pathology, subclassifications between COVID-19 ARDS and COVID-19 fibrosis were up to the discretion of the individual centers, and could have added heterogeneity to our COVID-19 cohort and confounded our findings. Further, COVID-19 diagnosis codes were only activated in October 2020 in the transplant database.

      Incorporating COVID-19 Related Organ Failure In Candidate Listings - OPTN Available from: https://optn.transplant.hrsa.gov/policies-bylaws/public-comment/incorporating-covid-19-related-organ-failure-in-candidate-listings/. Accessed September 25, 2022.

      It is possible that some initial COVID-19 transplants were captured as ARDS cases, as emphasized by the sudden surge in waitlist candidates with a diagnosis of ARDS in 202019 and by the uptick in incidence of LT for ARDS in 2020, as compared to previous years. In fact, while the first recorded LT for COVID-19 ARDS was performed on June 5, 2020,
      • Bharat A
      • Machuca TN
      • Querrey M
      • et al.
      Early outcomes after lung transplantation for severe COVID-19: A series of the first consecutive cases from four countries.
      the first LT for COVID-19 in our cohort was performed on August 16, 2020. Additionally, the small cohort size and incompleteness of some variables might also bias our analyses. Similarly, the follow-up data for this study was limited.
      Despite these limitations, our study comes at an important time. Recent reports have found that approximately 10% of current lung transplants have been administered as therapy for COVID-19, thus highlighting the importance of studies such as this project that elucidate the outcomes of LT in a high-risk population that may be preventable by vaccination.

      Sheridan K. Once rare, lung transplants for COVID-19 patients are rising quickly. NPR, November 28, 2021 Available from: https://www.npr.org/2021/11/28/1058988220/once-rare-lung-transplants-for-covid-19-patients-are-rising-quickly. November 28, 2021. Accessed September 25, 2022.

      Though the increased demand for double lung transplants in the setting of COVID-19 has raised concern for an increasing gap between the demand and supply for transplantable organs, our short-term data suggests that LT is a viable therapy for COVID-19 patients with sequelae refractory to conventional care.

      CONCLUSION

      Limited short-term data from April 2020 to March 31, 2022 for 353 patients who received lung transplants due to disease processes stemming from COVID-19 indicate that LT is a viable therapy for COVID-19 refractory to conventional care. As the SARS-CoV-2 pandemic continues to affect patients and families worldwide, treatment knowledge gaps persist, including the role and effectiveness of LT. Our data suggests that COVID-19 LT patients with evidence of irreversible lung damage are older, more predominantly male, and less severely functionally compromised at time of transplant than non-COVID-19 ARDS LT recipients, and that COVID-19 patients with irreversible lung damage have comparable post-transplant outcomes to non-COVID-19 ARDS patients. As the number of COVID-19 lung transplant patient's increases and longer term follow up data becomes available, the role of LT in COVID-19 will become better defined and more completely understood. Future studies with longer follow-up can add granularity in identifying the variables that may influence outcomes following LT in the setting of COVID-19.

      Acknowledgments

      The authors have no disclosures and received no funding for this analysis. We would like to acknowledge the Organ Procurement and Transplantation Network (OPTN) database, which is a national transplant database administered by the United Network of Organ Sharing for the data used in this analysis.
      This research did not receive any specific grant from funding agencies in the public, commercial, or not-for-profit sectors.

      WEBCAST

      To view the Webcast of this AATS 102nd Annual Meeting presentation see the URL below: Webcast URL: http://www.aats.org/resources/1585.

      Supplementary Material

      References

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