Recent News on Organ Donation Disease Transmission

The following is a statement issued this morning by Dave Bosch, Donate Life Illinois Chair and Director of Communications for Gift of Hope Organ & Tissue Donor Network in response to the recent news regarding disease transmission from an organ donor.

Official statement from Gift of Hope:

Late last month, Gift of Hope was notified by one of its affiliated transplant centers of a potential disease transmission from organs procured from a donor earlier this year. A recipient of an organ from this donor recently tested positive for HIV and HCV.

In response, in addition to immediately reviewing the records of the donation, Gift of Hope sent a serum sample from the donor to an independent Laboratory for further testing.

A review of the case verified that Gift of Hope performed standard tests for HIV and HCV in accordance with the appropriate guidelines as required by the U.S. Health Resources and Services Administration’s (HRSA), Organ Procurement and Transplantation Network (OPTN), and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

As the screening tests performed at the time of the donation were negative, based on information available, the likely circumstance is that this donor was potentially in a window period before the routine screening tests could indicate the presence of disease. These initial test results were later validated by an independent Laboratory.

However, a different testing method also employed by the independent Laboratory in recent weeks indicated the presence of HIV and HCV.

Information obtained through the medical/social history of the donor at the time of donation indicated high risk behavior. It is routine practice to conduct this screening on all potential donor cases. Information provided through this medical/social history helps identify risk factors for potential disease transmission. These risk factors were communicated to those transplant centers considering organs from this donor.

Four organs were recovered from the donor and transplanted into waiting recipients. The remaining three patients also have tested positive for HIV and HCV.

Gift of Hope is working closely with the CDC, Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH), HRSA, UNOS and the involved transplant centers to confirm the source of the disease transmission and ensure that affected patients are fully supported.

Our mission has always been to save lives through organ donation, and we are deeply saddened by this circumstance. We appreciate the far-reaching impact this situation may have on patients and their families. Our thoughts and prayers are with them.

– Gift of Hope Organ & Tissue Donor Network

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One Response to Recent News on Organ Donation Disease Transmission

  1. colette says:

    We all know it’s a judgment call on the transplant center’s part, assessing benefit vs. risk. They don’t tell the patient though… that the donor is high risk, or positive for viruses , which may start to change now, though. ) Would it make a difference for a dying patient?(it would not have for me) Maybe not, but the moral dilemma may be; does the patient have the right to know? Without a doubt, I would still choose LIFE!

    So why doesn’t the media print this??? I’m one of the blessed 900!!!

    2006 sees record number of organs, tissues donated
    in Illinois and northwest Indiana
    ELMHURST, Ill. (April 24, 2007)—The number of organs and tissues donated in Illinois and northwest
    Indiana reached an all-time high in 2006, saving the lives of more than 900 people in need of organ
    transplants.
    Gift of Hope Organ & Tissue Donor Network announced today that 973 lifesaving organs were provided
    for transplant through its network, upon the generous decisions of 305 donors and their families to
    consent to organ donation. In addition, 995 donors and their families consented to donating a loved
    one’s bone, heart valves and other tissues for medical transplant.
    “We are proud to have served so many families, and provide so many transplant recipients a second
    chance at life through organ donation,” Gift of Hope President/CEO Jerry Anderson said. “Any hope
    that we can offer to patients on the transplant waiting list is through those who decide to donate, and
    through the many healthcare partners who are instrumental in working with us to serve donors’ families,
    educate the public and increase donation rates.”

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