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Donor-derived infections in solid organ transplant patients: toward a holistic approach

Benamu, Esthera; Wolfe, Cameron R.b; Montoya, José G.a

Current Opinion in Infectious Diseases: August 2017 - Volume 30 - Issue 4 - p 329–339
doi: 10.1097/QCO.0000000000000377

Purpose of review: Solid organ demand far exceeds organ supply. Strategies to increase the donor pool include the liberalization of selection criteria without increasing the risk of unexpected donor-derived infection (DDI), a rare complication of transplantation carrying high morbidity and mortality. We review the challenging aspects in the prevention of DDI, focusing on the complexities of data sharing and efficient communication and the role infectious diseases specialists play in the process.

Recent findings: Advances in donor screening, transmission recognition and reporting allow for a better estimation of the risk of DDI. However, there is great variability in the frequency and methods with which organ procurement organizations report transmission events.

Moreover, the Scientific Registry of Transplant Recipients provides limited donor and recipient outcome infectious diseases related data. Infectious disease contribution to the allocation process has been found to improve organ donation efficiency and communication between involved parties. Although communication gaps are strongly associated with infection transmission (relative risk 2.36%, confidence interval 1.48–3.78), effective communication minimizes or prevents infection in transplant recipients (X2(1) 13.13, P = 0.0003).

Summary: Prospective research is still required to define optimal screening protocols and further prevent transmission of infection. A holistic approach is likely to result in enhanced transplantation safety. Toward this goal, development of standards of investigation; improvement in reporting and data sharing; and strategies ensuring coordinated and rapid communication among parties involved in the allocation process need to be pursued.

aDivision of Infectious Diseases and Geographic Medicine, Department of Medicine, Stanford University School of Medicine, Stanford, California

bDivision of Infectious Diseases, Department of Medicine, Duke University School of Medicine, Durham, North Carolina, USA

Correspondence to Esther Benamu, MD, Stanford Hospital and Clinics, Palo Alto, CA 94305, USA. E-mail:;

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