How Safe Is It to Transplant Organs from Deceased Donors with Primary Intracranial Malignancy? An Analysis of UK Registry Data


Corresponding author: Christopher Watson,


Patients dying from primary intracranial malignancy are a potential source of organs for transplantation. However, a perceived risk of tumor transfer to the organ recipient has limited their use. We evaluated the risk of tumor transmission by reviewing the incidence in patients transplanted in the UK. Information from the UK Transplant Registry was combined with that from the national cancer registries of England, Wales and Northern Ireland to identify all organ donors between 1985 and 2001 inclusive with a primary intracranial malignancy and to identify the occurrence of posttransplant malignancy in the recipients of the organs transplanted. Of 11 799 organ donors in the study period, 179 were identified as having had a primary intracranial malignancy, including 33 with high-grade malignancy (24 grade IV gliomas and 9 medulloblastomas). A total of 448 recipients of 495 organs from 177 of these donors were identified. No transmission of donor intracranial malignancy occurred. Organs from patients dying from primary intracranial malignancy, including those with high-grade tumors, should be considered for transplantation and the small risk of tumor transmission should be balanced against the likely mortality for potential recipients who remain on the transplant waiting list.