Author – Matthew J. Kuehnert, MD
Director, Office of Blood, Organ, and Other Tissue Safety
CDC Division of Healthcare Quality Promotion
This week, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) released a new guideline to improve patient safety by reducing disease transmission through organ transplantation. This guideline updates the 1994 U.S. Public Health Service (PHS) guideline for preventing transmission of human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) through organ transplantation, and adds guidance for reducing unexpected transmission of hepatitis B virus (HBV) and hepatitis C virus (HCV) through organ transplants.
Disease transmission from infected donors has been reported in heart, lung, liver, kidney and pancreas recipients. From 2008 to 2011, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) participated in more than 200 investigations of suspected, unexpected disease transmission through transplants. Of these, there were 15 instances in which HIV, HBV or HCV infection was confirmed to have been transmitted from the organ donor to the recipient.
The 2013 PHS Guideline for Reducing Human Immunodeficiency Virus, Hepatitis B Virus, and Hepatitis C Virus Transmission through Organ Transplantation, published in Public Health Reports, recommends the use of more sensitive tests so that patients can be protected from infections transmitted from a transplanted organ, and be informed of risks to the greatest extent possible.
The major changes from the previous 1994 PHS guideline are: