Estimating the potential pool of HIV-infected deceased organ donors in the United States

Am J Transplant. 2011 Jun;11(6):1209-17. doi: 10.1111/j.1600-6143.2011.03506.x. Epub 2011 Mar 28.


Human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) is no longer a contraindication to transplantation. For HIV-infected patients, HIV-infected deceased donors (HIVDD) could attenuate the organ shortage and waitlist mortality. However, this practice would violate United States federal law. The goal of this study was to estimate the potential impact of legalizing transplantation of HIV-infected organs by quantifying the potential pool of HIVDD. Using Nationwide Inpatient Sample (NIS) data, HIV-infected deaths compatible with donation were enumerated. Using HIV Research Network (HIVRN) data, CD4 count, plasma HIV-1 RNA level, AIDS-defining illnesses and causes of death were examined in potential HIVDD. Using UNOS data, evaluated donors who later demonstrated unanticipated HIV infections were studied. From NIS, a yearly average of 534 (range: 481-652) potential HIVDD were identified, with 63 (range: 39-90) kidney-only, 221 (range: 182-255) liver-only and 250 (range: 182-342) multiorgan donors. From HIVRN, a yearly average of 494 (range: 441-533) potential HIVDD were identified. Additionally, a yearly average of 20 (range: 11-34) donors with unanticipated HIV infection were identified from UNOS. Deceased HIV-infected patients represent a potential of approximately 500-600 donors per year for HIV-infected transplant candidates. In the current era of HIV management, a legal ban on the use of these organs seems unwarranted and likely harmful.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • CD4 Lymphocyte Count
  • HIV Infections / epidemiology*
  • Humans
  • Tissue Donors*
  • United States / epidemiology
  • Viral Load