COVID-19: Update on organ donation and transplantation services

Consensus guidance for organ donation and transplantation services during COVID-19 pandemic

The COVID-19 pandemic continues to have a significant impact on the Canadian health care system, including organ and tissue donation and transplantation. To help guide the administration of organ and tissue donation and transplantation services in light of the COVID19 pandemic, this guidance is informed by national discussions, expert recommendations, and guidance from the Canadian Society for Transplantation, Canadian Blood Services’ advisory committees, Health Canada, Public Health Agency of Canada, World Health Organization, provincial agencies, and international partners.

This document was last updated November 4, 2021, and will be updated as required.

Disclaimer: The guidance provided in this document is not meant to replace clinical judgement. Because the pandemic is rapidly evolving, the guidance will likely change over time. Any clinical decisions should be made in consideration of the latest available information.

Preliminary National System Data Dashboard (COVID-19 Impact)

A national organ donation and transplantation COVID-19 impact dashboard was developed in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. It was intended to help the community better understand, in near real time, the impact the COVID-19 crisis has had, either directly or indirectly on organ donation and transplantation in Canada and by extension, what impact these changes have had on potential donors and transplant candidates. This dashboard has evolved and now provides preliminary national system (unvalidated) data that continues to show potential impacts of COVID-19 and other issues facing system performance in Canada.

National Transplant Guidance on COVID Vaccine (via CST)

Via the Canadian Society for Transplantation: The following document provides expert consensus guidance that can be used by provincial organ donation organizations and regional transplant and donation programs to guide the management of COVID-19 vaccination in transplant recipients in light of the pandemic. It is understood that each organization, program, and jurisdiction will develop their own policies.

COVID-19 Vaccine Q&A  intended for transplant recipients and answers the following questions (via UHN):

  1. Is the COVID-19 vaccine safe for transplant recipients?
  2. Which COVID-19 vaccine should transplant recipients take?

You can view the clips and captions on this playlist, as well as the full Q&A here


COVID-19 Open Access Publications – Donation and Transplantation Focus (via CDTRP)

The rapidly evolving COVID-19 situation is leading to vast amounts of information being generated and shared. To avoid information overload and duplication of efforts, the Canadian Donation and Transplantation Research Program,  Canadian Blood Services, and the Canadian Society of Transplantation in collaboration with the Vincent Larivière team from the Canada Research Chair at the Université de Montréal are developing a systematic, coordinated approach to search, retrieve, synthesize and store emerging information related to COVID-19 implications for organ and tissue donation and transplantation. This effort aims to create an repository for COVID-19 relevant organ and tissue donation and transplantation references, inform evidence-based emergency response recommendations, and highlight knowledge gaps that warrant investigation.

Go to site

COVID-19 and Organ and Tissue Donation and Transplantation: Review of International Recommendations (via CDTRP)

Canadian Blood Services, the Canadian Donation and Transplantation Research Program,  and the Canadian Society of Transplantation have partnered to: 1) generate evidence-based, expert informed rapid response recommendations that are updated as evidence evolves; and 2) identify knowledge gaps and research opportunities. As part of this work, we have created a website that provides a review of publicly available recommendations related to COVID-19 and organ donation and transplantation.

Go to site

Webinar Series: Psychological First Aid, Grief and Loss, and Moral Distress in response to COVID-19

Access recordings here

Consensus guidance for tissue donation and transplantation during the COVID-19 pandemic

On March 20, a teleconference meeting of the Canadian Eye and Tissue Donation Community was held, bringing together eye and tissue donation and bank leaders from across the country.  The aim of the meeting was to share information and develop a consensus which can be used by provincial donation organizations, eye and tissue banks to guide the administration of eye and tissue donation and bank services considering the COVID-19 pandemic.

Consensus guidance for eye and tissue donation and transplantation services during COVID-19 pandemic (updated May, 2020)  

COVID-19 impact on Kidney Paired Donation (KPD) program

On March 16, 2020, the KPD program was put on-hold to minimize the possibility of exposing living donors, transplant candidates, and recipients to COVID-19. On May 12, Canadian Blood Services’ Kidney Transplant Advisory Committee, Living Donation Advisory Committee, and OTDT leadership agreed to restart the Kidney Paired Donation Program in three phases: 

  • Phase 1: To resolve all KPD program donation and transplantation chains affected by program suspension on March 16, 2020. The goal is to complete or collapse all affected chains by August 2020.
  • Phase 2: Beginning June 2020, KPD match runs will take place every month. Programs will be encouraged to ship and receive kidneys, instead of asking donors to travel, with some local travel by donors taking place at the discretion of programs.
  • Phase 3: By Fall 2020, it is expected that most provincial programs will have returned to normal operations. The KPD team will work with provincial programs to identify opportunities for innovation and adapt to the new environment.

Programs can contact for more information. 

COVID-19 impact on Kidney Paired Donation (KPD) and Highly Sensitized Patient (HSP) Programs (March 13, 2020)

Surveillance of National Organ Transplant Recipients Affected by COVID-19 (SNO-TRAC)

Through this effort, we hope to provide the Canadian transplant community with timely information on the epidemiology, pathophysiology, clinical features, management, and prognosis of transplant recipients affected by COVID-19. We also believe that the data will inform better approaches to prevention, treatment, and health policy. It will also identify knowledge gaps that can be the focus of future research.

Learn more 


Additional information

International sites and resources