Nucleic Acid Testing (NAT) of Organ Donors: Is the ‘Best’ Test the Right Test? A Consensus Conference Report


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    The findings and conclusions in this report are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily represent the official position of UNOS, AATB or AOPO.

* Corresponding author: Atul Humar,


Nucleic acid testing (NAT) for HIV, HBV and HCV shortens the time between infection and detection by available testing. A group of experts was selected to develop recommendations for the use of NAT in the HIV/HBV/HCV screening of potential organ donors. The rapid turnaround times needed for donor testing and the risk of death while awaiting transplantation make organ donor screening different from screening blood-or tissue donors. In donors with no identified risk factors, there is insufficient evidence to recommend routine NAT, as the benefits of NAT may not outweigh the disadvantages of NAT especially when false-positive results can lead to loss of donor organs. For donors with identified behavioral risk factors, NAT should be considered to reduce the risk of transmission and increase organ utilization. Informed consent balancing the risks of donor-derived infection against the risk of remaining on the waiting list should be obtained at the time of candidate listing and again at the time of organ offer. In conclusion, there is insufficient evidence to recommend universal prospective screening of organ donors for HIV, HCV and HBV using current NAT platforms. Further study of viral screening modalities may reduce disease transmission risk without excessive donor loss.