American Transplant Congress
American Transplant Congress
Source/Disclosures
Source:

Blumberg E. Presidential address. Presented at: American Transplant Congress; May 30- June 1, 2020. (virtual meeting).

Disclosures: Healio Nephrology was unable to determine relevant financial disclosures prior to publication.
May 30, 2020
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AST president: COVID-19 provides opportunity for collaboration

Source/Disclosures
Source:

Blumberg E. Presidential address. Presented at: American Transplant Congress; May 30- June 1, 2020. (virtual meeting).

Disclosures: Healio Nephrology was unable to determine relevant financial disclosures prior to publication.
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At the virtual American Transplant Congress, Emily Blumberg, MD, FAST, president of the American Society of Transplantation, discussed how the COVID-19 pandemic has presented the transplant community with challenges and opportunities.

“The COVID-19 pandemic has been an exceptionally difficult time for all of us,” Blumberg told the audience during her presidential address.

She said members of the professional and patient community have had many questions and there has been “a thirst for up-to-date knowledge” about the impact of the virus on transplant recipients.

According to Blumberg, there has been a sense of urgency and a need to respond, but transplant societies must ensure that the information is accurate.

“We had to make sure information became consistently current in the setting of constantly evolving practices with a new paradigm to follow every few weeks,” she noted.

Now that new cases are levelling off or declining in parts of the country, she added, new questions are being posed regarding how to safely reinstate transplant programs at a time when COVID-19 has not been “fully eliminated.”

“I’m proud to say that AST has rapidly helped to fill this void by building on our past history of collaboration to provide timely information to our colleagues and the community,” she said.

Blumberg addressed other challenges posed by the pandemic, as well, suggesting it has been necessary to “recalibrate” transplant programs to ensure space in hospitals for patients admitted with COVID-19.

Further, she touched on the need to preserve resources.

“In some especially hard-hit areas like New York City, bed capacity has been severely strained and some ICU patients in the hardest hit areas were required to share ventilators,” she said.

According to Blumberg, transplant providers, some of whom were redeployed to COVID-19 units and ICUs, are uniquely suited to assist in such a situation as their transplant backgrounds have provided them with experience regarding allocation of scare resources and the “thorny ethical dilemmas” that accompany such decisions.

“Clearly,” she added, “business as usual no longer exists and we’ve all had to reconsider those notions of equity and allocation from the lens of the pandemic.”

Broadening the scope to issues that consistently face the transplant community, such as how to make medication affordable to patients and how to solve the problem of disparities in organ allocation, she said, “Some of these issues seemed insurmountable. We struggled with them for years as we tried to find equity and serve all of those in need.”

While the Advancing American Kidney Health initiative is an important step forward — one that has brought recognition to the cost-effectiveness of transplantation — she argued that it must not be forgotten that this action only applies to patients with kidney disease.

She concluded, “This is the beginning but not the end, as our other transplant patients remain in need of support.” – by Melissa J. Webb

Reference:

Blumberg E. Presidential address. Presented at: American Transplant Congress; May 30- June 1, 2020. (virtual meeting).

Disclosure: Healio Nephrology was unable to determine relevant financial disclosures prior to publication.