THURSDAY, SEPTEMBER 29, 2016

HHS announces new guidelines for organ transplants

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services released new guidelines on Tuesday that should reduce the risk of disease contraction during organ transplantation.

The guidelines for organ transplants have not been updated since 1994. Changes to the guidelines include both informing the public of all potential dangers of an organ transplant and also requiring heavier screening of organ donors to ensure no disease will be transmitted, namely HIV, Hepatitis B and Hepatitis C.

"Transmission of infections through organ transplants is a critical concern for patients, their families and healthcare personnel involved in transplant procedures," HHS Assistant Secretary for Health Howard K. Koh said. "Putting these new recommendations into practice will allow doctors and patients to make better, more informed decisions when accepting organs for transplantation."

New additions to the guidelines include more sensitive testing for HIV, HBV and HCV, along with making HBV and HCV testing mandatory prior to organ donation. An increased list of risk factors for clinicians will be created to ensure both the clinician and patient fully understand the risks of an organ transplant, which not only include the potential for contracting a disease but also for the host body to reject the organ.

"The decision to accept the risk and the benefit of an organ transplant should be made by a fully informed patient, and the new guideline will help patients and their doctors have the information they need to weigh risks and benefits of transplanting a particular organ," Matthew J. Kuehnert, director of CDC's Office of Blood, Organ and Other Tissue Safety, said.