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Defilippis EM, Allen LA, Bhatt AS, Joseph S, Kittleson M, Vardeny O, Drazner MH, Lala A. Vaccines, Antibodies and Donors: Varying Attitudes and Policies Surrounding COVID-19 and Heart Transplantation. Journal of cardiac failure. 2022 Dec 1; 28(12):1727-1732.
INTRODUCTION: There are varied opinions in the United States regarding many aspects of care related to COVID-19. The purpose of this study was to examine the opinions of health care personnel and the policies of heart transplant centers concerning practices for the prevention and treatment of COVID-19 in donors and recipients of heart transplants. METHODS: Two anonymous, electronic web-based surveys were developed: 1 was administered to health care personnel through a mailing list maintained by the Heart Failure Society of America (HFSA); another was administered to U.S. medical adult and pediatric heart transplant (HT) program directors. Individual and group e-mails were sent with an embedded link to the respective surveys in February 2022. RESULTS: A total of 176 individuals (8.6%) responded to the survey administered through the HFSA. Of medical directors of transplant programs, 78 (54% response rate) completed a separate survey on their centers'' policies. Although 95% (n = 167) of individuals indicated vaccination against COVID-19 should be required prior to HT, only 67% (n = 52) of centers mandated that practice. Similarly, 61% of individuals thought vaccination should be required prior to HT for caregivers, but only 13% of transplant centers mandated caregiver vaccination. Of the centers, 63% reported considering donors despite histories of recent COVID-19 infection (within 3 months), and 47% considered donors with current positive polymerase chain reaction tests. Regarding post-transplant care, only 22% of programs routinely measured antibodies to COVID-19, and 71% used tixagevimab/cilgavimab (Evusheld) for pre-exposure prophylaxis. CONCLUSIONS: There were significant differences between individual preferences and centers'' practices with respect to COVID-19 management of candidates for and recipients of HT. Additionally, there was wide variation in policies among centers, reflecting the need for further study to inform consistent guidance and recommendations across centers to optimize equitable care for this high-risk patient population.