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The value of autopsy and other histological examinations for the safety of tissue transplantation

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Directive 2006/17/EC requires that all available medical information, including autopsy reports, is evaluated before releasing tissues for transplantation. The aim of this study was to investigate whether evaluation of results of autopsy and other histological examinations contributes to the safety of tissue transplantation. From the files of all deceased Dutch donors, from whom tissues were retrieved in a 6-month period, results of autopsy and other histological examinations (remnant heart after valve donation and biopsies obtained during retrieval) were evaluated for contraindications for transplantation. Of 758 donors at least one tissue was considered suitable for transplantation at initial assessment. 637 Donors donated corneas, 256 skin, 177 heart valves and 61 musculoskeletal tissues. On 220 donors (29.0%) autopsy was done. Of seven donors no autopsy results were requested, since a contraindication was detected earlier in the medical screening. In 19 donors with autopsy (8.9%) general or tissue-specific contraindications were detected. There were no differences in distribution of detected contraindications among donors who donated different tissues. For 136 donors (17.9%) results of histological examinations other than autopsy were available; results of examination of remnant hearts for all, brain autopsy for two (0.3%) and retrieval biopsy for four donors (0.5%). Contraindications were detected in nine of these donors with histology results other than autopsy (6.6%). For 402 donors (53%) no histological examinations were done. Evaluation of results of autopsy and other histological examinations improves the safety of tissue transplantation for all types of tissues. In donors without autopsy alternative histological examinations can contribute to enhance the safety of tissue transplantation.

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Correspondence to Marja J. van Wijk.

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Visser, L., Holsboer, E., Bokhorst, A.G. et al. The value of autopsy and other histological examinations for the safety of tissue transplantation. Cell Tissue Bank 13, 37–46 (2012).

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