Characteristics and Donation Outcomes of Potential Organ Donors Perceived to Be at Increased Risk for Blood-borne Virus Transmission: An Australian Cohort Study 2010-2018

Transplantation. 2022 Feb 1;106(2):348-357. doi: 10.1097/TP.0000000000003715.


Background: Safely increasing organ donation to meet need is a priority. Potential donors may be declined because of perceived blood-borne virus (BBV) transmission risk. With hepatitis C (HCV) curative therapy, more potential donors may now be suitable. We sought to describe potential deceased donors with increased BBV transmission risk.

Methods: We conducted a cohort study of all potential organ donors referred in NSW, Australia, 2010-2018. We compared baseline risk potential donors to potential donors with increased BBV transmission risk, due to history of HIV, HCV or hepatitis B, and/or behavioral risk factors.

Results: There were 624 of 5749 potential donors (10.9%) perceived to have increased BBV transmission risk. This included 298 of 5749 (5.2%) with HCV (including HBV coinfections) and 239 of 5749 (4.2%) with increased risk behaviors (no known BBV). Potential donors with HCV and those with increased risk behaviors were younger and had fewer comorbidities than baseline risk potential donors (P < 0.001). Many potential donors (82 with HCV, 38 with risk behaviors) were declined for donation purely because of perceived BBV transmission risk. Most were excluded before BBV testing. When potential donors with HCV did donate, they donated fewer organs than baseline risk donors (median 1 versus 3, P < 0.01), especially kidneys (odds ratio 0.08, P < 0.001) and lungs (odds ratio 0.11, P = 0.006).

Conclusions: Many potential donors were not accepted because of perceived increased BBV transmission risk, without viral testing, and despite otherwise favorable characteristics. Transplantation could be increased from potential donors with HCV and/or increased risk behaviors.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Australia / epidemiology
  • Cohort Studies
  • HIV Infections*
  • Hepatitis B*
  • Hepatitis C* / diagnosis
  • Hepatitis C* / epidemiology
  • Humans
  • Tissue Donors