New Blood Borne Virus Infections Among Organ Transplant Recipients: A Data-Linked Cohort Study Examining Transmissions and De Novo Infections

Main Article Content

Karen MJ Waller
Nicole L De La Mata
James A Hedley
Brenda M Rosales
Michael J O’Leary
Elena Cavazzoni
Vidiya Ramachandran
William D Rawlinson
Patrick J Kelly
Kate R Wyburn
Angela C Webster


Solid organ transplant recipients are at risk of infections, which may be either derived through transplantation or acquired later. Blood-borne viruses (BBV) are a particular concern for donor-derived transmissions. There is an increasing emphasis on biovigilance – monitoring the safety of donated organs. However, systematic surveillance to distinguish donor-transmitted infection from de novo post-transplant infection is challenging. Additional information can be obtained through linkage of administrative health data.

Objectives and Approach
We aimed to identify donor-transmitted and de novo BBV infections among organ transplant recipients. We conducted a cohort study of all solid organ donor-recipient pairs in New South Wales, Australia, 2000-2015. Donor and recipient BBV infections were identified by linking transplant registries with administrative health data. Proven/probable donor-transmissions were identified among new recipient infections within 12 months of transplant, classified according to an international algorithm. All other new BBV infections were classified as de novo infections.

Among 2,120 organ donors, 73 had a BBV infection (11/73 active, 62/73 past). Donors with BBV donated to 176 recipients, of whom 24/176 had the same BBV as their donor, and 152/176 did not; these 152 recipients were at risk of donor-transmission. Among those at risk, there were 3/152 proven/probable BBV transmissions (1 hepatitis C, 2 hepatitis B [HBV]) and 149/152 recipients with non-transmissions. All donor-transmissions were previously recognised by donation services, and were from donors with known BBV. There were no deaths from transmissions. There were 70 recipients with de novo BBV; 2/70 died from new HBV.

Conclusion / Implications
This work confirms the safety of Australian organ donation, with no unrecognised BBV transmissions and many non-transmissions from donors with BBV. This may support increasing targeted donation from donors with BBV. However, de novo BBV infections were substantial and preventable. Data-linkage may be a useful adjunct to current biovigilance systems.

Article Details

How to Cite
Waller, K. M., De La Mata, N. L., Hedley, J. A., Rosales, B. M., O’Leary, M. J., Cavazzoni, E., Ramachandran, V., Rawlinson, W. D., Kelly, P. J., Wyburn, K. R. and Webster, A. C. (2020) “New Blood Borne Virus Infections Among Organ Transplant Recipients: A Data-Linked Cohort Study Examining Transmissions and De Novo Infections”, International Journal of Population Data Science, 5(5). doi: 10.23889/ijpds.v5i5.1642.

Most read articles by the same author(s)