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Despite the vaccine, fear of the virus plagues Spanish transplant patients

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Wearing a face mask and social distance were part of Magdalena Moskal’s life long before the coronavirus pandemic.

A 36-year-old Madrid resident underwent a double lung transplant in 2008 to address cystic fibrosis, a hereditary disorder in which thick secretions accumulate in the lungs and make breathing difficult.

“Suddenly everyone was living my reality,” she said in a gentle voice, rushing back to adopt anti-COVID precautions early last year.

With the current momentum of COVID vaccine deployment, many are returning to gyms, cinemas and sports venues after more than a year of on-off restrictions.

But for Spain’s Moscar, the world leader in organ transplantation, and thousands of people like her, a worry-free return to normal life is still a long way off.

The transplant patient’s immune response is deliberately suppressed with daily medications to prevent the body from attacking new organs.

They also do not respond to vaccines like other people.

Therefore, Moscar warned that organ donors can only relax if “100 percent of the population is vaccinated.”

“I’m here because I’ve always taken care of myself. If you’re not careful, you’ll end up terribly,” Moscar, who is legally trained and happy to work from home, told AFP. It was.

“Different from other people”

Andrea Lopez Robles, a 25-year-old who also lives in the Spanish capital and received a life-saving liver transplant at the age of two, feels he can’t help but be vigilant.

“I don’t think we can say’goodbye’to all precautions until everyone is vaccinated,” she said in an interview with AFP.

She hasn’t used public transport since the start of the pandemic in Spain in March 2020 and has avoided large gatherings as much as possible.

“I’m almost dead. I can’t do anything stupid,” Robles added, just putting a hand sanitizer on his purse and lowering the high-filtration FFP2. To drink her fruit juice.

“I realize that I need to take care of myself and I’m not like anyone else.”

Uncertainty despite vaccination

For over 30 years Spain has done more More than anywhere else in the world.

We have a highly developed network and every hospital has a transplant coordinator.

Since 1989, more than 116,000 transplants have been made, making it a source of national pride.

Spain’s organ donors per million in 2019 will be 48.9, the highest number ever.

According to the National Transplant Organization of the Spanish Ministry of Health, this is compared to 29.4 million in France and 36.1 million in the United States.

However, People who have been vaccinated with COVID-19 cannot be sure of their immunity.

According to a study published in May by the Journal of the American Medical Association, only 54% of 658 transplant patients who received either the Moderna or Pfizer vaccine twice produced COVID-19 antibody. ..

Moscar was immunized against COVID in May, but it is unknown whether her body produced antibodies intended to be vaccinated.

“A significant proportion of transplant patients do not express any antibodies or protective cells after being vaccinated against the coronavirus,” said Estela Paz Artal, head of immunology at Madrid Hospital 12 de Octubre.

However, she said it was important for transplant patients to be vaccinated. In short, this is “preferably better than no vaccination”.

The COVID-19 mortality rate for transplant patients is 21%, compared to about 2.0% for the general population, the National Transplant Organization said.

“Buddhist life”

Most transplant patients are well aware of the risks.

Retired IT engineer Rafael Garcia, 45, has to take care of her “every day, every hour” about 100 tablets she has had to take every day since she received a double lung transplant five years ago. He said he reminded me that I had to.

He said he was “monastic” with his wife and lived as if he had not been vaccinated, even though he had been vaccinated.

He buys groceries online and wears a face mask outdoors even when no one is nearby.

Under the Spanish COVID vaccination program Patients are prioritized and health authorities are considering giving them booster shots.

“We need to look for alternatives and increase the effectiveness of the vaccine for this group of patients,” said Beatrice Dominges Gil, head of the National Transplant Organization.

“For the time being, they have to maintain self-defense, like everyone else, but even more in their case,” she added.


For transplant patients, COVID-19 vaccination shows different uncertainties


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