Viral Nucleic Acid Testing (NAT) and OPO-level disposition of high-risk donor organs

L. M. Kucirka, C. Alexander, R. Namuyinga, C. Hanrahan, R. A. Montgomery, D. L. Segev

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

56 Scopus citations


The use of Public Health Service/Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (PHS/CDC) high-risk donor (HRD) organs remains controversial, especially in light of a recent high-profile case of human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) and hepatitis C virus (HCV) transmission. Nucleic acid testing (NAT), while more expensive and time consuming, reduces infectious risk by shortening the period between infection and detectability. The purpose of this study was to characterize HRDs and disposition of their organs by organ procurement organization (OPO), to measure NAT practices by OPO and to examine associations between NAT practices and use of HRD organs. We analyzed 29 950 deceased donors (2574 HRDs) reported to UNOS since July 1, 2004 and May 8, 2008. We then surveyed all OPO clinical directors about their use of NAT, average time to receive NAT results, locations where NAT is performed and percentage of the time NAT results are available for allocation decisions. In total, 51.7% of OPOs always perform HIV NAT, while 24.1% never do. A similar pattern is seen for HCV NAT performance, while the majority (65.6%) never perform HBV NAT. AIDS prevalence in an OPO service area is not associated with NAT practice. OPOs that perform HIV NAT are less likely to export organs outside of their region. The wide variation of current practice and the possibility that NAT would improve organ utilization support consideration for a national policy.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)620-628
Number of pages9
JournalAmerican Journal of Transplantation
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 1 2009


  • HIV
  • Hepatitis
  • High-risk donors
  • NAT testing

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Immunology and Allergy
  • Transplantation
  • Pharmacology (medical)


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