Precautions for liver transplant patients in the times of COVID-19 lockdown

Dr Dr Ravi Mohanka, Consultant and Chief - HPB Surgery and Liver Transplant, Global Hospital, Mumbai

Patients who have undergone a liver transplant are on immunosuppressive medicines and may have a higher risk of infections such as COVID-19. During the pandemic, they should be under strict lockdown avoiding contact with any person who might have the infection. Patients may have a lot of free time during the lockdown and should identify productive activities to keep themselves occupied indoors such as pursuing their hobby (painting, reading, etc.). Patients and their family members should strictly avoid smoking as it can be dangerous in case of COVID-19 infection. There should be no alcohol intake as it can suddenly cause severe injury in the transplanted liver.

Patients should however continue taking their medicines and if their availability is a problem, they should contact their transplant team immediately as skipping these medicines for any reason can cause rejection. All current medicines, including immunosuppressive medicines, should be available for about 1 month as their availability may be an issue due to the lockdown. Most transplant teams offer tele-consultation which could be utilized to review your progress with them. The transplant teams may also be able to help patients for availability of medicines, by facilitating their contact with someone who can supply them. If they suffer from another disease, tele-consultation with other appropriate specialist doctors should also be continued. If patients need a procedure or surgery, the same should be planned only after the lockdown period. However, any emergency procedure can be carried out after confirming negative for COVID-19 infection.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, they should limit their movement in the community and exposure to other sick patients. If they need to travel out of their house they should wear a N-95 mask and avoid touching outside surfaces and may even use a glove. The glove should be discarded after they return home. Patients should avoid starting a new medicine during this period and in case of any symptoms, even if not related to the liver disease or transplant, they should immediately contact their transplant team. There is currently no proven vaccine to prevent or antiviral medicine to treat this infection, please take medications prescribed by Infectious disease (ID) specialist / physician after informing the transplant team. In case of high-grade fever, dry cough or sputum production, they should be seen immediately and tested for suspected infection by a physician, pulmonologist (lungs specialist) or an ID specialist keeping the liver transplant team informed of all progress. While being treated for the infection, the condition of their liver disease should be closely monitored by the transplant team.

Dr Ravi Mohanka
Consultant and Chief - HPB Surgery and Liver Transplant, Global Hospital, Mumbai

Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article belong solely to the author. They do not reflect the opinions or views of the organization.

Tags: Coronavirus   

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