Users of anatomical donors are at risk of exposure to bloodborne pathogens. This study evaluated screening algorithms for hepatitis B and C virus, human immunodeficiency virus and Treponema pallidum during donor allocation and assessed the impact of postmortem time on hemolysis and how hemolysis affects test results and donor discard rate.
From 2011 to 2018, demographic data of anatomical donors, time of postmortem blood sampling, presence of sample hemolysis, serological test results (negative; active infection; false reactive screening test; historic infection; inconclusive; technically impracticable) and the actual donor allocation were collected.
Donors (n = 537) had a mean age of 77.53 ± 13.67 (24–103) year. Nine (1.68%) had laboratory test results indicative for active infection for hepatitis B (n = 1) and C virus (n = 2), human immunodeficiency virus (n = 5) and T. pallidum (n = 1). Negative screenings ranged from 74.67 to 97.58%, depending on the pathogen. According to the original screening algorithms, 479 (89.20%) donors should have been accepted. In practice, a donor acceptance rate of 91.20% was found. Analysis of potential donor allocation interpretation obstacles resulted in simplification of the in-house laboratory testing algorithms and addition of a nucleic acid test to increase the reliability for identification of active (acute) human immunodeficiency virus infection. Hemolysis was more common when sampling was performed more than 24 h after death (p < 0.001). Hemolytic samples more frequently showed a reactive or indeterminate human immunodeficiency virus test result (p < 0.001). Screening for human immunodeficiency virus and T. pallidum was technically more impracticable when hemolysis was present (p = 0.042 and p = 0.003, respectively). Donors with hemolytic blood samples were more often discarded (46.88%) compared to bodies with non-hemolytic samples (6.32%) (p < 0.001).
Despite the implementation of donor screening algorithms, a significant number of bodies have an inconsistent allocation. New algorithms, to be evaluated in future research, were suggested. Early postmortem blood sampling is key as hemolysis can influence certain test results and donor allocation.