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1st kidney transplant between former COVID-19 patients

Doctors claim to be a "first" in the world as both the recipient and donor had recently recovered from COVID-19.

“The coronavirus is not an obstacle to organ transplant,” said associate professor Eyüp Veli Küçük, who heads the kidney transplant clinic at Health Sciences University Ümraniye Training and Research Hospital where the surgery was performed.

The doner, 50, donated one of his kidneys to his nephew, a 31-year-old patient. Both the donor and recipient were in good health. “This is an inspiring situation that gives us hope. We showed that suffering from infection does not mean that your life is over,” Küçük told Demirören News Agency (DHA) on Monday.

The kidney recipient was suffering from kidney failure coupled with high blood pressure. He was under severe risk and needed a transplant to survive. The hospital had earlier paused new transplant surgeries due to the coronavirus pandemic, but doctors sought approval from the Health Ministry and World Health Organization (WHO) for going ahead with the surgery.

“We took all measures and operated on the patients,” Küçük underlined. Both men were infected while they were preparing for the surgery. They were subsequently admitted to the hospital and overcame the deadly illness.


Küçük said it was assumed that the transplant surgery could be dangerous as COVID-19 could have lowered the patient’s immunity, but the surgery’s outcome proved it could be achieved without putting patients at risk.

Experts warn of a decline in organ donations as the pandemic led to a drop in people applying to hospitals for transplants. Professor Dede Şit, who took part in Yıldırım’s transplant, says more people should come forward for donations, urging, in particular, the families of recently deceased people to donate organs.

Ceyhun had visited the hospital with a simple stomachache complaint a few months ago and was diagnosed with kidney failure. “I am not someone who frequently becomes sick. I was diagnosed with kidney failure and I made up my mind to have a transplant after two months. Just then, I was infected. Thankfully, I recovered and had my surgery. I feel great now and do not have any pain. Patients afraid of having a transplant should trust Turkish doctors and never lose hope,” he said.

Mustafa Yıldırım said he underwent treatment for the coronavirus for 10 days but it never crossed his mind to give up donating his kidney to Ceyhun. “I am happy to help him. We had a very successful surgery,” he told DHA.



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