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Prog Transplant. 2011 Sep;21(3):236-47; quiz 248.

Zero risk tolerance costs lives: loss of transplantable organs due to human immunodeficiency virus nucleic acid testing of potential donors.

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LifeGift Organ Donation Center, 1701 River Run, Suite 300, Fort Worth, TX 76107, USA.


Patients' deaths due to the organ donor shortage make it imperative that every suitable organ be transplanted. False-positive results of tests for infection with the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) result in lost organs. A survey of US organ procurement organizations collected the numbers of donors and ruled-out potential donors who had a positive result on an HIV test from January 1,2006, to October 31, 2008. Sixty-two percent of US organ procurement organizations participated. Of the 12397 donor/nondonor cases, 56 (0.45%) had an initial positive result on an HIV antibody or HIV nucleic acid test, and only 8 (14.3%) of those were confirmed positive. Of the false-positive results, 50% were from HIV antibody tests and 50% were from HIV nucleic acid tests. Organs are a scarce, finite, and perishable resource. Use of HIV antibody testing has produced a remarkably safe track record of avoiding HIV transmission, with 22 years of nonoccurrence between transmissions. Because false positives occur with any test, including the HIV Ab test, adding nucleic acid testing to the standard donor testing panel doubles the number of false-positive HIV test results and thus the number of medically suitable donors lost. The required HIV antibody test is 99.99% effective in preventing transmission of the HIV virus. Adding the HIV nucleic acid test to routine organ donor screening could result in as many as 761 to 1551 unnecessary deaths of patients between HIV transmission events because medically suitable organs are wasted.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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