FAQ: Coronavirus Basics for Transplant and Other Immunosuppressed Patients
Last updated September 23, 2020
If you or one of your loved ones is a UCSF transplant patient, get answers here to important questions about coronavirus (COVID-19) and how to minimize your risk of infection.
I am taking medications that suppress my immune system. Do I need to take special precautions?
Based on experience with other viral respiratory infections, it is possible that COVID-19 will be more severe in the immunosuppressed population. Immunosuppressed patients should follow the following precautions:
- Wash your hands often with soap and warm water for at least 20 seconds. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol.
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth with unwashed hands.
- Avoid close contact with people outside of your home.
- Do not come to work if you are sick.
- Avoid all nonessential travel.
- Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when you cough or sneeze, and throw the tissue in the trash. Then wash your hands with soap and water.
- Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces.
- Stay home as much as possible. If you need to go out, avoid crowded public spaces, staying at least 6 feet away from all other persons.
- Wear a mask or cloth face covering when you are in public places, such as the grocery store. Please do not wear a mask with a valve, as these masks allow droplet release and do not protect others who may be nearby.
Should I continue to take my immunosuppressive medications?
Yes, continue to take your immunosuppressive medications. If you are sick with fever or respiratory symptoms, contact your medical team for guidance on continuing your immunosuppressive medications. Check with your doctor about your immunosuppression if you have any questions.
Will donated organs be safe?
Organ procurement organizations will screen donors for exposure and symptoms. Potential donors with suspected COVID-19, or prior contact with someone with COVID-19, will not be used. Donors with exposure risk and no symptoms may be considered on a case-by-case basis. This is a rapidly evolving situation, and these guidelines may change in response to new information.
Will living organ donation be safe?
Living donors who traveled to a high-risk area in the last 14 days may be deferred for a period of time. Potential living donors should be advised to not travel. Routine testing of living and deceased donors for COVID-19 is an evolving situation and may be recommended in certain settings.
How do I talk with my employer about workplace accommodations?
These letters from UCSF Transplant Services describing important prevention measures can be helpful in talking with your employer about workplace accommodations to keep yourself and your family safe.
- Coronavirus (COVID-19) information from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
- Coronavirus Disease 2019 FAQs from the American Society of Transplantation
Webinars: Organ Transplants and Living Organ Donation
COVID-19 has changed the way we care for transplant patients at UCSF in many ways. In these webinars, experts on our panel discuss transplant patient care during this time, including how we're handling it in our clinics, plans for screening, what to expect when you come to Parnassus, and much more.
UCSF Health medical specialists have reviewed this information. It is for educational purposes only and is not intended to replace the advice of your doctor or other health care provider. We encourage you to discuss any questions or concerns you may have with your provider.