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Keywords:

  • Nucleic acid testing;
  • tissue/organ donor;
  • transmission;
  • virus

To determine the potential safety benefit of introducing nucleic acid testing (NAT) in tissue and organ donors, the risk of virus transmission was examined in a Canadian population.

Anonymous data on Northern Alberta tissue and organ donors from 1998 to 2004 were used to determine the seroprevalence and estimate the seroincidence and residual risk of HIV, HBV, HCV and HTLV infection. Of the 3372 donors identified, 71.1% were surgical bone, 13.2% were living organ and 15.6% were deceased organ/tissue donors. Seroprevalence was: HIV 0.00%, HBV 0.09%, HCV 0.48% and HTLV 0.03%. Incidence (/100,000 p-yrs) and residual risks (/100,000 donors) could only be estimated for HBV (24.2 and 3.9) and HCV (11.2 and 2.2). Risk estimates were higher for deceased donors than surgical bone donors.

HCV had the highest prevalence and HBV had the highest estimated incidence. HIV and HTLV risks were extremely low precluding accurate quantification. In this region of low overall viral prevalence, HCV NAT would be most effective in deceased organ donors. In surgical bone donors the cost of implementing NAT is high without significant added safety benefit.