COVID-19 in Kidney Transplant Recipients: A Multicenter Experience from the First Two Waves of Pandemic

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DEMİR E., Ucar Z. A., Dheir H., Danis R., Yelken B., Uyar M., ...More

BMC NEPHROLOGY, vol.23, no.1, 2022 (SCI-Expanded) identifier identifier identifier

  • Publication Type: Article / Article
  • Volume: 23 Issue: 1
  • Publication Date: 2022
  • Doi Number: 10.1186/s12882-022-02784-w
  • Journal Name: BMC NEPHROLOGY
  • Journal Indexes: Science Citation Index Expanded (SCI-EXPANDED), Scopus, CINAHL, EMBASE, MEDLINE, Directory of Open Access Journals
  • Keywords: COVID-19, Kidney transplantation, Anti-viral agents, Cytokine-targeted therapy, SARS-CoV-2, Acute respiratory distress syndrome
  • Istanbul University Affiliated: Yes


Background Kidney transplant recipients have an increased risk of complications from COVID-19. However, data on the risk of allograft damage or death in kidney transplant recipients recovering from COVID-19 is limited. In addition, the first and second waves of the pandemic occurred at different times all over the world. In Turkey, the Health Minister confirmed the first case in March 2020; after that, the first wave occurred between March and August 2020; afterward, the second wave began in September 2020. This study aims to demonstrate the clinical presentations of kidney transplant recipients in the first two waves of the pandemic in Turkey and explore the impact of COVID-19 on clinical outcomes after the initial episode. Methods Patients with COVID-19 from seven centers were included in this retrospective cohort study. Initially, four hundred and eighty-eight kidney transplant recipients diagnosed with COVID-19 between 1 March 2020 to 28 February 2021 were enrolled. The endpoints were the occurrence of all-cause mortality, acute kidney injury, cytokine storm, and acute respiratory distress syndrome. In addition, longer-term outcomes such as mortality, need for dialysis, and allograft function of the surviving patients was analyzed. Results Four hundred seventy-five patients were followed up for a median of 132 days after COVID-19. Forty-seven patients (9.9%) died after a median length of hospitalization of 15 days. Although the mortality rate (10.1% vs. 9.8%) and intensive care unit admission (14.5% vs. 14.5%) were similar in the first two waves, hospitalization (68.8% vs. 29.7%; p < 0.001), acute kidney injury (44.2% vs. 31.8%; p = 0.009), acute respiratory distress syndrome (18.8% vs. 16%; p = 0.456), and cytokine storm rate (15.9% vs. 10.1%; p = 0.072) were higher in first wave compared to the second wave. These 47 patients died within the first month of COVID-19. Six (1.4%) of the surviving patients lost allografts during treatment. There was no difference in the median serum creatinine clearance of the surviving patients at baseline (52 mL/min [IQR, 47-66]), first- (56 mL/min [IQR, 51-68]), third- (51 mL/min [IQR,48-67]) and sixth-months (52 mL/min [IQR, 48-81]). Development of cytokine storm and posttransplant diabetes mellitus were independent predictors for mortality. Conclusions Mortality remains a problem in COVID-19. All the deaths occur in the first month of COVID-19. Also, acute kidney injury is common in hospitalized patients, and some of the patients suffer from graft loss after the initial episode.