By Dr Sunil Shenvi, Consultant HPB & Transplant Surgery, BGS Gleneagles Global Hospital
The world is affected by the novel coronavirus or COVID-19. Most of the countries are under lockdown as an effort to prevent the virus from spreading. The healthcare workers are working round the clock to cure the patients who are suffering. The uncertainty of this virus has created panic among everybody.
However, the ones with strong immunity have a higher recovery rate than the ones with a compromised immune system. Especially, patients who have had an organ transplant like liver transplantation, pancreas transplantation, need to be careful as they are more susceptible to being infected by COVID-19. There are concerns that transplant patients can also transmit the COVID-19 infection at a higher rate to others if they get infected, unfortunately.
You must be overwhelmed with questions and doubts if you’ve had a liver transplant recently, it’s understandable. So here are some tips to help you keep yourself safe during the pandemic.
Transplant Patients And COVID-19 Risks:
Though there is paucity of information about the severity of COVID-19 on transplant recipients currently, more and more data is emerging. We currently know that they are at higher risk of being affected by the coronavirus or any other virus easily, due to their immunosuppressive medications, which weaken the immunity for acceptance of the organ. Therefore transplant recipients should take extra precautions to avoid being exposed to COVID-19.
-Avoid close contact with anyone who is sick
-Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth
-Use tissue or handkerchief while coughing or sneezing. Dispose-off the tissue instantly. If you don’t have a tissue use your elbow, not your hand
-Wash and sanitize your hands thoroughly and frequently, especially after going to the washroom, before eating, and after blowing your nose, coughing or sneezing
-Clean and disinfect objects and surfaces used regularly in your household, using a cleaning spray or wipe
-Avoid all crowded areas and gatherings
If any COVID-19 cases found near your locality, stay home and take remote guidance with your healthcare professional
-Determine who can provide you with care if your caregiver gets sick, and create a plan of your medications, other diseases and overall care.
-Avoid travel unless an emergency
International Patient Care
For international patients who have had or are undergoing liver transplant in India, it is suggested that they follow all the precautionary measures listed above. If you have moved to another country after your treatment, stay in touch with your consulting physician as he/she knows your post-operative conditions. Connect with him/her via tele-consultation, and it is advised that you send your latest medical reports to the doctor before the call. This helps him/her to guide you as per your current condition. Additionally, if you feel any discomfort or if it is an emergency, speak to your local doctor immediately.
Do not stop taking your medication or start another medication or even supplements, without consulting your doctor. Make sure you have a sufficient supply of medications so that you don’t need to go to the pharmacy frequently. Keep some backup of your medication for emergencies, but don’t hoard excessive supplies unnecessarily. If you are about to run out of your medications and not able to get them, please contact your doctor immediately. Your doctor will be able to help you.
Keep in touch with your doctor
Make sure you inform him/her if you feel any kind of discomfort due to your medication or any other reasons. Opt for calls or chats, instead of a visit. This helps in protecting you as well as helps the doctor devote time to virus-affected patients.
COVID-19 can be tough to deal with, especially if you are a transplant patient. Hence, take proper precautions so that you can protect yourself from this pandemic, and stay healthy.
Dr Sunil Shenvi,
Consultant HPB & Transplant Surgery, BGS Gleneagles Global Hospital
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.