Routine screening of blood samples for viral RNA among organ and tissue donors who show no signs of sickness may reduce risk of disease transmission among transplant recipients, say researchers according to a new study. Testing for the presence of blood antibodies to diseases such as HIV or hepatitis C is the usual method of screening. However, this method is limited. Some donors may be infected with a virus but show a full immune response.
For the study 2,236 organ donors, 636 tissue donors, and 177 cornea donors were involved to determine whether nucleic acid testing (NAT) could identify HIV or hepatitis C RNA in donors who tested negative for viral antibodies.mResults showed five positives for hepatitis C (HCV) RNA among the organ donors and one positive for hepatitis C RNA among tissue donors. There were no positive results for HIV RNA among the donors who tested negative for the antibodies.
Thus reported cases of [hepatitis C virus] transmission to recipients from a seronegative HCV-RNA positive donor suggest that routine NAT screening of organ and tissue donors might increase viral safety in the transplantation setting.