Chance of organ transplant linked to Covid-19 vaccination status

Irish Donor Network rejects ‘dogmatic’ view of US expert on use of ‘scarce resource’

The head of an organ donor organisation has said not being vaccinated against Covid-19 affects a person’s chance of getting a transplant.

However, Philip Watt, chairman of the Irish Donor Network and chief executive of Cystic Fibrosis Ireland, said he didn't agree with the "dogmatic" perspective of a US expert who said unvaccinated people should not be eligible.

There is no directive in Ireland saying that if you are not vaccinated you will not get an organ donation, Mr Watt said.

“But certainly there are a range of factors that come into play when people are being assessed for a transplant, and survivability is definitely one of them.”


“We would certainly not advocate that [not being vaccinated] should be a barrier to a having a transplant. I think that would be unfair. But ultimately it is a clinical decision.”

Risk assessment

A spokesman for Beaumont Hospital in Dublin said a person awaiting a kidney transplant might have their operation deferred if a risk assessment concluded the risk to the patient was too high.

No patient, regardless of vaccination status, will be or has been removed from the transplant list, he said.

Earlier this year it was reported that clinicians in Beaumont had suggested that patients who were not vaccinated should be suspended from the waiting list for kidney transplants.

The hospital later issued a statement saying no patient had been, or would be, taken off the list because they were not vaccinated.

However it encouraged all patients to “engage fully” with Covid protection measures.

Coronavirus deaths

The director of a major US organ donation programme has said unvaccinated people should not receive organ donations because of their risk of dying from Covid-19.

"I cannot in good conscience transplant somebody with an organ that is a valuable scarce resource, knowing they are not vaccinated," said Dorry Segev, director of the Epidemiology Research Programme in Organ Donation at Johns Hopkins University.

He was speaking at a question-and-answer session on the fringes of the Web Summit in Lisbon.

Mr Watt said he believed Mr Segev’s perspective was “a bit dogmatic” and that the language he had used was not appropriate. “I think what we should be doing is encouraging people to get vaccinated.”

People who have received transplants and who are awaiting transplants are recognised by the Health Service Executive as being high-priority groups for vaccination and vaccine boosters.