We rigorously screen all donations to ensure patient safety

All screening of tissue donations from living donors for markers of a range of microbiological infections is undertaken by NHS Blood and Transplant (NHSBT) donation screening laboratories. In the case of deceased donors, screening is undertaken by 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.

NHSBT's 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.

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