Heart transplant volumes dropped significantly during COVID-19 pandemic, study finds

Heart transplant volume decreased by 26 percent nationally from volumes in the first two months of the year to the months when COVID-19 was spiking in the U.S., a new study shows.

The study, published in JAMA Cardiology, included an analysis of publicly available data from the United Network for Organ Sharing. They examined data for adult heart transplant candidates between Jan. 19 and May 9. They divided the time period into the pre-COVID-19 era (Jan. 19 to March 15) and the COVID-19 era (March 15 to May 9).

Here are four key findings:

1. Heart transplant volume decreased from 525 transplants between Jan. 19 and March 15 to 389 transplants between March 15 and May 9, representing a 26 percent drop.

2. Additions to heart transplant waitlists decreased from 637 in the pre-COVID-19 era to 395 in the COVID-19 era, a 37 percent decline.

3. About 600 people were taken off heart transplant waitlists between March 15 and May 9 as compared to 343 between Jan. 19 and March 15 — a 75 percent drop.

4. Recovery of hearts from dead donors declined 26 percent, from 1,878 in the pre-COVID-19 era to 1,395 in the COVID-19 era.

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