All screening of tissue donations for markers of a range of microbiological infections is undertaken by, in the case of donations from living tissue donors, the routine NHS Blood and Transplant (NHSBT) donation screening laboratories, and in the case of deceased donors by the NHSBT National Transfusion Microbiology Reference Laboratory (NTML). In all cases the donations are screened using the same screening assays as used for screening blood donations. This screening includes the mandatory markers (see below) and any discretionary testing e.g. Malaria and T. Cruzi. Samples are normally tested on automated systems to minimise any risk of error. Donation samples are labelled using the same barcodes used to label the donation. The screening results generated are then automatically downloaded directly onto the NHSBT core IT system and product release is only enabled where the results are present and indicate that the products are safe for clinical use.

Microbiology Screening

All donors are screened for syphilis Ab, HBsAg, anti-HCV, anti-HIV, anti-HTLV, anti-HBc, HCV-PCR, HIV-PCR and HBV-PCR.

Donations from living donors where PCR screening was not requested on the primary sample have the option of being quarantined for 180 days before another donor sample is obtained for a second screen. This is undertaken as an additional safety assurance measure to ensure the detection of any early infection at the time of the donation (not detectable by the serological screening at that time).


All donations are screened independently of the tissue bank for contamination with bacteria and fungi within the National Bacteriology Laboratory, NTML. Strict exclusion criteria are in place, reviewed and regularly updated in line with best practice and developments, both in-house and published.

The NHSBT NTML, in addition to in-house expertise, work closely with clinically based scientific and medical consultant specialists from HPA (Health protection Agency) and UCLH (University College London Hospital) to ensure best practice.


Tissue Services is currently undertaking a feasibility study for the removal and testing of tonsil tissue from deceased donors. There is evidence that vCJD prions become detectable in tonsil and other lymphoid tissues before clinical onset of disease.

Tissue Services is the only tissue banking service in the UK to undertake tonsil testing of donors. Use of other lymphoid and neuronal tissues as analyses for testing is under investigation.

National Order Line:
0845 607 6820

National Fax Line:
0845 607 6819

Tissue Services

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