Dr. Robert Montgomery was motivated to get a COVID-19 Vaccine as quickly as possible for various reasons. His patients were among the most vulnerable to the disease as a transplant surgeon in a busy New York hospital. Transplant patients have suffered dramatically as a result of the pandemic. According to Montgomery, almost 20% of those infected died, with nearly 2,000 deaths in New York City alone last year, compared to one or two transplant patient deaths in a typical flu season.
He is a transplant recipient as well. His 61-year-old chest-pumping heart is not the one he was born with. Montgomery’s disappointment was compounded when his body failed to respond to his two-dose COVID-19 immunization. Many transplant patients are unable to produce protective antibodies because of the drugs used to prevent organ rejection. According to a new study from Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, only 17 percent of transplant recipients had antibodies after their first dosage of the COVID-19 Vaccine, with another 35 percent reacting after two shots.
She had two doses of the Moderna Vaccine in March and April, but she is confident that she is immune to COVID-19. The pandemic still looks like it did during the worst of the outbreak for Nadeem-Baker, a patient at Dana-Farber in Boston: she always wears a mask, keeps her distances, and avoids groups. Researchers aren’t sure what constitutes a sufficient immune response or what amount of protection is required. They’ll have to find out what to do with folks like Montgomery and Nadeem-Baker, who aren’t protected once they figure out who is.