Liver transplantation in Italy in the era of COVID 19: reorganizing critical care of recipients

Siniscalchi A.,
Vitale G.,
Morelli M.C.,
Ravaioli M.,
Laici C.,
Bianchini A.,
Del Gaudio M.,
Conti F.,
Vizioli L.,
Cescon M.
Document Type
Source Title
Internal and Emergency Medicine
Springer Science and Business Media Deutschland GmbH


Transplant programs have been severely disrupted by the COVID-19 pandemic. Italy was one of the first countries with the highest number of deaths in the world due to SARS-CoV-2. Here we propose a management model for the reorganization of liver transplant (LT) activities and policies in a local intensive care unit (ICU) assigned to liver transplantation affected by restrictions on mobility and availability of donors and recipients as well as health personnel and beds. We describe the solutions implemented to continue transplantation activities throughout a given pandemic: management of donors and recipients’ LT program, ICU rearrangement, healthcare personnel training and monitoring to minimize mortality rates of patients on the waiting list. Transplantation activities from February 22, 2020, the data of first known COVID-19 case in Italy’s Emilia Romagna region to June 30, 2020, were compared with the corresponding period in 2019. During the 2020 study period, 38 LTs were performed, whereas 41 were performed in 2019. Patients transplanted during the COVID-19 pandemic had higher MELD and MELD-Na scores, cold ischaemia times, and hospitalization rates (p < 0.05); accordingly, they spent fewer days on the waitlist and had a lower prevalence of hepatocellular carcinoma (p < 0.05). No differences were found in the provenance area, additional MELD scores, age of donors and recipients, BMI, re-transplant rates, and post-transplant mortality. No transplanted patients contracted COVID-19, although five healthcare workers did. Ultimately, our policy allowed us to continue the ICU’s operations by prioritizing patients hospitalized with higher MELD without any case of transplant infection due to COVID-19. © 2020, Società Italiana di Medicina Interna (SIMI).

Migration angle
Region/Country (by coverage)
Index Keywords

adult; complication; Coronavirus infection; crowding (area); end stage liver disease; female; human; intensive care; intensive care unit; Italy; liver transplantation; male; middle aged; organization and management; pandemic; procedures; virus pneumonia; Adult; Coronavirus Infections; Critical Care; Crowding; End Stage Liver Disease; Female; Humans; Intensive Care Units; Italy; Liver Transplantation; Male; Middle Aged; Pandemics; Pneumonia, Viral