Many kidneys from deceased
donors that are classified as "high-risk" are safe if the organs are
screened using current methods, according to a small new study.
About 10% of kidneys from
dead donors are considered to have a high risk for infection with HIV (the
virus that causes AIDS) and hepatitis C and B, and for disease transmission,
according to the US Centres for Disease Control and Prevention.
However, the new study
concluded that many of these kidneys are safe and therefore should not be labelled
Researchers looked at 170
patients at Columbia University Medical Centre who received kidneys that met
CDC's high-risk criteria. Among the donors, about 57% had a history of
injection drug use, about 26% had high-risk sexual behaviour, about 12% were in
jail, about 7% were men who had sex with men, and about 5% had received
multiple blood transfusions.
About 78% of the donor
kidneys came from other medical centres, indicating that those centres refused
to use the kidneys, according to the study to be presented in early November at
the meeting of the American Society of Nephrology (ASN), in Atlanta.
After an average 2.4 years
of follow-up, 86.5% of the transplanted kidneys were functioning and none of
the patients had been infected with HIV or hepatitis C or B, the investigators
The findings demonstrate
the relative safety of so-called high-risk kidneys when they are screened using
current methods, the researchers said. They suggested that these organs should
probably be labelled as "identified-risk" rather than
Because this study will be
presented at a medical meeting, the data and conclusions should be viewed as
preliminary until published in a peer-reviewed journal.
"Utilisation of these
organs represents an opportunity for shortening wait time for patients while
providing good outcomes and an extremely low level of risk for transmission of
infections," study leader Moya Gallagher, at the New York-Presbyterian
Hospital/Columbia University Medical Centre, said in an ASN news release.
"For most deceased
organ donors, the medical/social history is obtained second- or third-hand, and
it is erroneous to assume that some of these patients do not fall into the
groups that constitute the 'high-risk' classification. Therefore, we believe
that the current... classification [division] is misleading and does a
disservice to those patients on the waiting list," Gallagher added.
The National Kidney
Foundation has more about kidney