Background: Transplantation of organs from donors who are bacteremic is controversial. We examined the outcome of recipients of solid organs from donors with bacteremia and/or fungemia at the time of organ recovery.
Methods: All organ donors from a single organ procurement organization between January 1990 and December 1996 were retrospectively analyzed. We calculated rates of transmission from bacteremic or fungemic donors to their recipients and compared the graft and patient survival rates for recipients of these organs with those for recipients of organs from non-bacteremic donors.
Results: There were 95 (5.1%) bacteremic donors from a total of 1775, from whom 212 recipients received organs. Forty-six (48%) of the bacteremic donors had pathogens in their blood. Among the 101 recipients of organs from these, no evidence of transmission could be documented. (0% transmission rate, 95% CI 0-3). The remaining 49 donors had either Staphylococcus epidermidis or other unlikely pathogens recovered from the blood. Examination of the 111 recipients of organs from these donors also found no evidence for transmission (0% transmission rate, 95% CI 0-3). Of the 212 recipients, 193 (91%) received a mean of 3.8+/-2.5 days of antibiotics postoperatively. The 30-day graft and patient survival for recipients of organs from bacteremic donors was not significantly different from recipients of organs from nonbacteremic donors (P = 0.695 for patient survival, and P = 0.310 for graft survival).
Conclusions: Organs transplanted from bacteremic donors do not transmit bacterial infection or result in poorer outcomes. Use of organs from these donors could help increase organ availability.