A woman from Michigan tested positive for COVID-19 and died last fall after receiving a double-lung transplant from a donor who contracted the virus.
According to a study published by the American Journal of Transplantation, the incident suggests that this may be the first COVID-19 case in the United States in which the deadly virus was transmitted through an organ transplant.
A surgeon who touched the donor’s lungs also tested positive for coronavirus but has since recovered, reports NBC News.
The woman died 61 days after the surgery.
“We would absolutely not have used the lungs if we’d had a positive COVID test,” Dr. Daniel Kaul, director of the Transplant Infectious Disease Service at the University of Michigan Medical School and one of the co-authors of the study, said.
Kaul confirmed that the donor was a woman who died after suffering a severe brain injury in a car accident. The recipient was taken to the University Hospital in Ann Arbor, Michigan and had chronic obstructive lung disease.
Throat and nose samples collected from the recipient and donor had tested negative for COVID-19. However, several days after, the woman experienced a high fever, low blood pressure, heaving breathing, and a lung infection.
After the woman went into septic shock, doctors tested her for COVID-19. Fluids were taken from the lungs also confirmed that her tests were positive.
“History obtained from [the donor’s] family revealed no history of travel or any recent fever, cough, headache, or diarrhea,” the study says. “It is unknown if the donor had any recent exposures to persons known or suspected to be infected with SARS-CoV-2.”