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However, a spokesperson for NHS Blood and Transplant has told the Medical Independent (MI) the bacteria was “not unexpected” and the relevant consultant microbiologist in Birmingham raised a question with HSE Organ Donation and Transplant Ireland (ODTI) as to why this was reported as a serious adverse event (SAE) in the Republic, as it would not have been in the UK.
On receipt of the incident report, the HPRA requested that the national organ procurement service within ODTI investigate and determine the likely root cause of the presence of bacteria. “As the preservation fluid is itself classified as a medical device, an associated investigation has been initiated by the HPRA. Both investigations are ongoing,” said a HPRA spokesperson.
However, Dr John Forsythe, Associate Medical Director of Organ Donation and Transplantation (ODT) and NHS Blood and Transplant, said: “The fluid which retrieved organs are transported in is routinely tested in the UK. A proportion of those tested will have a positive result for different types of common bacteria found in the environment but in most cases, these will not affect whether the organ is suitable to be used for transplant. In this case, the organ was safely transplanted.
“A positive transport fluid result would not be reported to the HTA [Human Tissue Authority]within the UK. It would not be classed as an unexpected occurrence but would instead be noted as a routine clinical finding. Rarely, unusual organisms are found in the transport fluid and noting these can be useful in the management of the transplant recipient.”
He said that, over the last five years, 72 organs from donors in the Republic were transplanted into patients listed for transplant in the UK. Organs donated in the Republic are offered to patients in the UK “if there are no suitable patients in Ireland to match them to”.
Organs from UK donors can also be offered to patients in Ireland when there are no suitable matches in the UK.
The HSE had not commented by press time.