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Eluned Morgan, Minister for Health and Social Services

First published:
27 March 2023
Last updated:

Today, along with my counterparts across all four UK nations, I have agreed to accept and implement the recommendations made by the Advisory Committee on the Safety of Blood, Tissues and Organs (SaBTO) in relation to introducing universal serological screening of deceased organ donors for kaposi sarcoma associated herpes virus (KSHV).

Since 2015, NHS Blood and Transplant has investigated multiple incidents prompted by the development of KSHV disease in recipients of solid organ transplants in the UK. KSHV is also known as human herpes virus type 8 (HHV-8) infection and is a mostly asymptomatic infection, which can develop into various other infections and diseases in patients.

While the true incidence of donor-derived or newly-acquired post-transplant KSHV infection is not known, the severity of disease described over the years has indicated that action is necessary.

I have instructed NHS Blood and Transplant to implement HHV-8 testing on all deceased organ donors. The costs associated with the introduction of this testing will be met from within its funding allocation. I expect testing to be introduced as soon as practically possible and understand preparatory work has already started.

This work will focus on averting transplantation recipient deaths due to donor-derived primary KSHV or HHV8 infections and improve the safety of organ transplantation in Wales and the rest of the UK.

These improvements also align themselves with the aims set out in Organ Donation and Transplantation 2030: Meeting the Need, which sets out a 10-year vision for organ donation and transplantation in the UK.