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American woman dies of COVID-19 after contracting coronavirus through donor organ

A Michigan woman died 61 days after receiving a pair of lungs from an organ donor infected with the coronavirus, according to the report. How this happened, said the publication The New York Times.

Photo: Shutterstock

There was no indication that the donor, a woman fatally wounded in a car accident, had COVID-19. Her chest X-ray appeared clear and her nasal swab for coronavirus was negative.

But doctors who worked with the lung recipient at the University Hospital in Ann Arbor, Michigan began to question these results when their patient's condition worsened. They concluded that the donor did indeed have COVID-19, and her lungs had infected not only the transplant patient, but also the surgeon.

On the subject: Seven new strains of coronavirus identified in the United States: they are all highly contagious

It was the first confirmed case of a patient contracting the virus from an organ donor, according to the authors of the peer-reviewed report, which was published in The American Journal of Transplantation on Feb.10.

“We want the transplant community to know that this could happen and that something needs to be done to improve screening of patients for COVID-19,” explained surgeon Dr. Jules Lin, author of the report, and surgical director of the lung transplant program at Michigan Medicine.

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The report says healthcare providers should consider testing lung donors for coronavirus using a sample from their lower respiratory tract - out of the reach of a nasal swab. This type of testing, which is invasive and not recommended for the general public, is not always available; currently, only about one third of donated lungs are screened in this way.

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