Human immunodeficiency virus transmission by organ donation. Outcome in cornea and kidney recipients

Transplantation. 1987 Jul;44(1):21-4. doi: 10.1097/00007890-198707000-00006.


The human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) is reportedly transmitted by sexual contact, sharing of infected needles among intravenous drug abusers, blood and blood products, artificial insemination, and kidney transplantation. This study reports on cornea and kidney recipients of two HIV-infected donors. HIV was transmitted to two kidney recipients who developed symptoms of acute HIV infection (i.e., fever, leukopenia, mild thrombopenia, splenomegaly) starting 12 days after transplantation. These signs of acute infection ended with seroconversion of HIV antibodies on approximately the 56th day after transplantation. The three cornea recipients showed no signs of acute infection and no HIV antibodies were detected up to three years after transplantation. The nontransmission observed in our cases, however, may not be representative of cornea transplantations in general. HIV is neurotropic in the later stages of the disease, and transmission of other neurotropic viruses like rabies and Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease by cornea transplantation has been reported. All tissue and organ donors should be tested for anti-HIV prior to donation.

Publication types

  • Case Reports

MeSH terms

  • Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome / transmission*
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Antibodies, Viral / analysis
  • Corneal Transplantation*
  • Enzyme-Linked Immunosorbent Assay
  • False Negative Reactions
  • Female
  • HIV / immunology
  • HIV Antibodies
  • Humans
  • Immunoelectrophoresis
  • Kidney Transplantation*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Postoperative Complications / etiology*
  • Tissue Donors*
  • Tissue and Organ Procurement / standards
  • Transplantation, Homologous / adverse effects


  • Antibodies, Viral
  • HIV Antibodies