Peer Reviewed

Slim chance of Ebola virus passing through organ donation

The risk of the Ebola virus passing from organ donor to recipient is extremely small, experts suggest.

“Thousands of people die in the United States each year waiting for an organ transplant, and we think it is very important not to overreact to the very low risk that a potential donor might have the Ebola virus, and, as a consequence, unnecessarily discard potentially life-saving organs,” said lead author Daniel Kaul, who is the director of the transplant infectious disease division at the University of Michigan in the US.

However, the authors noted that individuals who travelled to the countries in Africa where Ebola virus is active, as well as health care workers and others who were recently exposed to someone infected with the Ebola virus, should not donate organs for at least 21 days.

While it is difficult to know how long a person should be kept from donating after exposure to the Ebola virus, the researchers feel that a 21-day exclusion period is reasonable.

“We think that after the 21-day period, doctors taking care of the patients involved could consider using those organs after talking with the potential recipients if that organ might be the recipient’s best chance to survive,” Kaul added.

The editorial was published in the American Journal of Transplantation.

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