Organ Transplantation From Deceased Donors With Brain Cancer: Is It Safe?

Ron Shapiro, MD


August 06, 2010

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Hi, my name is Ron Shapiro. I'm a transplant surgeon at the University of Pittsburgh. Today, I want to talk to you about a new paper on an old topic, one that has been troubling for those of us involved in clinical transplantation for a number of years.

This is a report from the United Kingdom that looks at the issue of donors with primary intracranial malignancy.[1] There has always been a question in the minds of many people in the field as to whether these donors are capable of transmitting malignancy into the recipients, and there has been controversy back and forth. This report from England looks at 179 donors, from whom nearly 500 organs were transplanted into over 400 recipients. There was no evidence of any intracranial malignancy transmission in any of these cases.

This is further proof that, at least in this cohort of patients, these donors were relatively safe to use and were not associated with any degree of donor cancer transmission. This probably will not resolve the issue, but is additional information to suggest that these donors can and should be used in patients undergoing transplantation.

Thank you.