March 23, 2020

Three transplant patients get chance at new life, thanks to COVID-19 testing at UC Davis Medical Center

(SACRAMENTO)

When three deceased-donor kidneys became available last week, the UC Davis Health team rose to the occasion, working extra shifts to ensure that their patients could receive the transplants that they desperately needed.  

A new regulation requires that organ donors, or deceased-donor organs, be tested for COVID-19 before transplant. Thanks to in-house testing developed by the UC Davis Department of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine team, the kidneys were tested within five hours. All three were negative for COVID-19.

“Our lab scientists had to do a double shift to get this urgent run in,” said Nam Tran, associate clinical professor in the department. “It’s what we do.”

Once tested, the organs were ready for transplant – and the kidney recipients received the life-saving operation that they had been waiting for. These were transplant surgeries that may not have been possible without the quick turnaround testing and coordinated teamwork at UC Davis Health.  

“The availability of the COVID-19 test enabled us to do these transplants in the safest possible setting,” said Rick Perez, chief of transplant surgery at UC Davis Health, who performed these three transplants over the weekend.