COVID-19 Treatments and Outcomes in Kidney Transplant Recipients

COVID-19 Treatments and Outcomes in Kidney Transplant Recipients With Erin Waters

Since the emergence of COVID-19, researchers have been racing to learn more about the virus. Science has come a long way since the world first heard of the novel virus back in late 2019. We now have better  tools, including vaccines and treatment options. Despite these gains, there continues to be a significant  lag in knowledge about COVID-19 in immunosuppressed patients, including transplant recipients. In BC,  there are over 5,200 people living with a transplant, nearly three-quarters of them kidney recipients. 

As variants continue to circulate, more recipients are confronting the reality of a COVID-19 infection. It is  critical to their short and long-term health that effective treatments are available. As part of the  Providence Health Care Research Challenge program, funded by TRFBC, nurse clinician – Erin Waters and  her team are exploring the effects of a commonly prescribed treatment, known as sotrovimab. Although this drug is no longer the first choice in treating COVID-19 in immunosuppressed patients, the work of  Erin and her team will greatly contribute to what is known about disease impacts for this population and  highlight the role of treatment. 

In our interview with Erin, we learn more about her work and what she’s hoping to achieve through her  TRFBC-funded Research Challenge grant.

What is your connection to transplant and why are you motivated to undertake research as part of  your practice? 

I have always been interested in transplant. I started my career working in transplant research, first in  the laboratory and then working with patients participating in clinical trials. After deciding to pursue  nursing, I knew I wanted to continue working in transplant. I love seeing the impact that transplant has  on patients and enjoy working in a dynamic, ever-changing field. I want to bring my research passion to  my clinical nursing role and find ways to be involved in projects that directly impact the patients I work  with. 

You recently received a PHC Research Challenge grant funded by TRFBC. Tell us more about your funded project and what you hope to achieve with your research. 

Transplant patients have been significantly impacted by COVID-19, experiencing high rates of  hospitalization and death. In Dec 2021, we began offering a monoclonal antibody treatment known as  sotrovimab to patients when they first test positive for COVID-19. Anecdotally, we saw an improvement  in the number of patients being hospitalized and dying. We wanted to formally assess the impact of  sotrovimab and show the importance of having an effective treatment for our patients. Although  sotrovimab has now been replaced with different treatment options we think it’s important to look back  at this data and learn from our experience. 

How do you envision your research will benefit patients and contribute to what is known about transplant recipients and COVID-19? 

Although transplant patients are one of the groups most affected by COVID-19, many of the initial research studies did not include transplant patients. Having real world data from our patient population will help demonstrate the impact of COVID-19 on this group and allow us to advocate for treatment options going forward. We hope this project will provide some initial data and allow us to plan future research projects. Ultimately, we want to have an accurate picture of the impact of COVID-19 on our patients so that we can find ways to lessen its burden. 

Your project engages with patient partners. How do you believe a lived experience perspective can benefit research and in what ways do you hope to apply this experiential knowledge to your study? Patient partners are a huge benefit to our research projects. Having a patient partner on our team has  allowed us to ensure the things we are studying are truly important to patients. I feel that an important  and sometimes overlooked part of research is sharing the results with those individuals who are most  impacted. We are planning to rely heavily on our patient partners to help determine the best ways to  share our results with patients themselves in a meaningful and understandable way. 

Your donations are instrumental in helping us fund projects, such as the study by Erin and her team, that  matter to our transplant community. 

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