Quebec City hospital suspends kidney transplants after patients test positive for COVID-19

A total of 60 patients and staff in the transplant unit are being tested for the coronavirus.

A total of 60 patients and staff in the transplant unit are being tested for the coronavirus

Five kidney transplant patients at Quebec City's Hôtel-Dieu hospital have contracted COVID-19, forcing the hospital to suspend transplants until further notice. (Sébastien Vachon/Radio-Canada)

A COVID-19 outbreak at a Quebec City hospital has forced it to temporarily halt kidney transplants.

The Hôtel-Dieu hospital in the provincial capital decided to postpone the transplant surgeries after some patients contracted the novel coronavirus. The hospital specified that fewer than five patients were infected but did not provide an exact number.

About 60 patients and staff on the seventh floor, which is home to those awaiting transplants, are being currently tested for COVID-19. 

The hospital explained it made the decision because organ transplant patients are especially vulnerable to complications associated with COVID-19. The number of cases in Quebec City the surrounding area has risen sharply over the past month.

"Taking the risk of transplanting while there is an outbreak of COVID-19 on the floor where immuno-suppressed patients are admitted is not a good idea. Organ transplant patients who have COVID-19 have a high mortality rate," said Isabelle Houde, head of the kidney transplant unit at Hôtel-Dieu.

If kidneys become available while the transplant program at the hospital is paused, the organs will be sent to another facility, she said.

Earlier this month, Quebec City's Heart and Lung Institute also announced it was suspending heart transplants after 41 employees tested positive for the coronavirus.

With files from Radio-Canada

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