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MMWR Morb Mortal Wkly Rep. 2011 Feb 18;60(6):172-4.

Potential transmission of viral hepatitis through use of stored blood vessels as conduits in organ transplantation--Pennsylvania, 2009.


Solid organ transplantation sometimes requires the use of blood vessels from a deceased donor as conduits to connect transplanted organ vessels to recipient vessels. Vessels not immediately used are sometimes stored for later use, including vessels collected from hepatitis B virus (HBV) and hepatitis C virus (HCV) seropositive donors; HBV and HCV seropositive vessels can be stored for use in seropositive recipients. In May 2009, HCV was transmitted when a transplant facility inadvertently used a blood vessel conduit from an HCV-seropositive donor in a seronegative recipient. In November 2009, a second transplant facility, the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center (UPMC), identified two cases of potential hepatitis virus transmission from vessel conduits. In December 2009, CDC was asked to assist the local health department in conducting an investigation at UPMC. This report summarizes the results of that investigation, which determined that, although neither recipient of the vessel conduits at UPMC contracted hepatitis, these represented "near miss" incidents in which transmission could have occurred. The storage of vessels from hepatitis-seropositive donors at UPMC and its affiliated Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) hospital was not necessary; vessels from seropositive donors were infrequently used because adequate supplies of vessels from seronegative donors were available. UPMC's prohibition of the storage of vessels from hepatitis-seropositive donors has removed a documented risk factor for viral transmission while not substantially affecting the transplant centers' vessel conduit supply. Evaluation of available national data supports this prohibition. Therefore, CDC recommends that transplant centers discontinue the practice of storing vessel from donors with markers for viral hepatitis, including HBV surface antigen (HBsAg), HCV antibody (anti-HCV), and HBV or HCV detectable by nucleic acid tests.

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