News & Media Center

Issue Papers

Issue: Illegal Organ Trafficking

On Thursday, October 27, 2011 the Star Ledger ran a front page story “Brooklyn man pleads guilty to trafficking black market kidneys to NJ residents,” which traced the illegal sale of kidneys for transplant allegedly done under the auspices of an Israeli organ trafficking ring to residents who were transplanted outside of the state. Read more.

Issue: NJ Sharing Network's Position on Infectious Disease Testing

NJ Sharing Network's Transplant Laboratory extensively screens potential donors for viruses and infectious diseases including HIV (AIDS) and hepatitis among others. Screening identifies risks of transmittable diseases. In addition to testing that is compliant with United Network for Organ Sharing (UNOS), NJ Sharing Network has adopted the more stringent Administration (FDA) screening procedures modeled after those used for blood donor screening. Our laboratory utilizes the Enzyme-Linked ImmunoSorbent Assay test (ELISA) as well as employing a newer platform, Nucleic Acid Amplification Testing (NAAT), that can detect viral genetic material directly and earlier than the ELISA screening methods. NAAT which is FDA approved for organ and tissue donor screening, is able to detect genetic material of virus like HIV without waiting for the body to form antibodies. NAAT is not widely available nor is it required by UNOS; however, NJ Sharing Network's Transplant Lab has been performing NAAT testing on solid organ donors since early 2006.  The transmission of infectious diseases through organ and tissue transplantation is an extremely rare occurrence and no test can detect every early viral infection. However, by utilizing both ELISA and NAAT, NJ Sharing Network is confident that we are providing the most sensitive and reliable donor screening tests currently available.

Issue: Donation After Cardiac Death (DCD)  

What is Donation After Cardiac Death?

Organ donation after cardiac death (DCD) is not a new concept but one that has gained increased attention in the past several years as a viable and appropriate method of recovering organs. This was the very first method of organ donor recovery ever utilized and was called "non beating heart donation." In those early years only kidneys were recovered due to a variety of limitations including surgical technique, ischemia and available methods of preservation. Today, kidneys, liver, pancreas, and in some cases lungs and hearts can also be recovered and successfully transplanted from donors who have had a cardiac arrest. Tissues such as bone, cornea, heart valves, veins and soft tissues have always been and always will be recovered from patients following cardiac death pronouncement. Read more.

Issue: Relative Risk of Infectious Disease Transmission in Organ Donation

On Wednesday, February 21, 2007, Italian health officials reported that three patients in a Florence hospital mistakenly received organ transplants from a donor who was HIV positive due to an error on a laboratory form. According to the report, the organs were tested, but a senior laboratory worker indicated “HIV negative” in recording the result. The event warrants a discussion of the relative risk of transmitting infectious diseases through donated organs in the United States. Read more.

Issue: Black market organs

Recently, the New York Times featured a front page story about "The organ trade: a global black market” which traced the illegal sale of a kidney for transplant to a woman from New York. The donor was from Brazil, the transplant operation took place in South Africa and the entire procedure was allegedly done under the auspices of an Israeli organ trafficking ring. Read more.

Issue: Donation of tissue for medical research

In the past few years there has been some media coverage of tissue donation and specifically, medical research involving body parts. While some of these reports are factual, some media reports have sensationalized the facts and created a negative picture of organ and tissue donation. The following background information is being provided so that you may better understand these issues and distinguish fact from fiction. Read more.