Wednesday, December 07, 2011

CDC's proposed U.S. guidelines for transplants say two sex partners is too many for top-notch organ donors

Rheana Murray New York Daily News

Clive Gee/AP
Those who sign an organ donor card and have had sex with two or more people in the past year would be considered high risk for transmitting hepatitis B and C in addition to HIV, according to proposed guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

If you’re not monogamous, you’re not an ideal organ donor, according to a new set of health guidelines proposed by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Under the proposed policy, people who’ve had sex with two or more people in the past year will be considered high-risk for transmitting HIV, hepatitis B and hepatitis C, but transplant experts are arguing that the standards are far too limiting.

“With the new guidelines, every college student in America will be high-risk,” said Dr. Harry Dorn-Arias, a transplant surgeon at the University of Virginia, according to “Right now, it’s probably a prostitute or a guy with a needle in his arm. Next time, it will be just a young guy.”

The guidelines could limit the number of available organs by discouraging potential donors who are hesitant to have their sexual history classified as “risky,” especially if the transplant situation involves a family member, Dorn-Arias warns.

“If you were going to give your organ to your mom or dad or sister, you’re going to be ashamed of that,” he said. “You’re either going to say no, or you’re going to lie.”

The policy could also deter patients in need of a transplant from accepting organs that are labeled “high-risk,” says Tracy Giacoma, transplant administrator at the University of Kansas Hospital, according to

“If you have a donor that’s 19 years old and he had multiple partners, we’ll have to tell the recipient, ‘This is a high-risk organ,’” she said.

“It’s probably going to triple what we consider high risk at this point. It may scare patients off from taking these organs. More patients may die because they don’t take these organs.”

The CDC says the proposition is designed to give transplant-seekers as much information as possible about an organ they might take.

“It’s geared for the patient, so the patient knows as much as they can about the organ being transplanted in them,” said Dr. Matthew J. Keuhnert, director of the center’s office of Blood, Organ and Other Tissue Safety, to the network.


“Our priority here is safety,” he added. “Patients should know if they’re getting an organ at elevated risk.”

Between 2007 and 2010, the CDC confirmed a dozen cases of unexpected transmission of infections in transplant cases.

The proposed guidelines would be the first major update since 1994 to the CDC’s Public Health Service policies for preventing transmission of HIV through human tissue and organs. It adds hepatitis B and hepatitis C to the list of viruses that donors must be tested for, while the current policy mandates only an HIV test.

The guidelines can be viewed at  Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

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