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August 15, 1986

HTLV-III ELISA Testing of Cadaveric Sera to Screen Potential Organ Transplant Donors

JAMA. 1986;256(7):864. doi:10.1001/jama.1986.03380070070014

To the Editor.—  Approximately 25 000 corneal transplants are performed annually in the United States.1 Demographic studies based on data from eye banks in California and Maryland indicate that the mean age of donors used for transplantation is 34.5 years and the male-to-female ratio is 3:1. Of these donor corneas, 78.2% were obtained from medical examiner's offices, 21.4% from hospitals, and 0.4% from funeral homes.2 In many urban areas, single males who meet violent deaths make up a significant portion of donors and only a minimal medical history may be available. Such donors may come from groups at high risk for harboring human T-cell lymphotropic virus type III (HTLV-III) infection.The efficacy of enzyme-linked immunosorbent assays (ELISAs) to detect antibodies against HTLV-III has been well established for testing premortem serum samples,3 but not for testing postmortem samples to screen potential organ donors (eg, cornea or kidney donors).