NSW Health Pathology’s Nucleic Acid Testing Laboratory has won a NSW Premier’s Award for a unique collaboration that provides 24/7 screening of donor organs for infectious diseases.
The team was last night presented with the NSW Premier’s Award for Highest Quality Healthcare.
When it comes to organ donation, timing is everything.
The ability to screen donor organs for infectious diseases and compatibility in just a few hours means the difference between life and death for patients awaiting transplant.
With a shortage of organs, more types of donors are being accepted following development of new screening methods for infections.
Only one team in NSW does this lifesaving work: the NSW Organ and Tissue Donation Service (OTDS) and the NSW Health Pathology Nucleic Acid Testing (NSWHP NAT) Laboratory at Prince of Wales Hospital in Sydney.
Our dedicated clinical pathologists, laboratory scientists and donation specialists work a 24/7 roster to respond whenever a donor organ becomes available, delivering results within a critical 8‑hour timeframe.
The lab now tests around 150 organ transplant donors – including 50 high-risk donors – and 650 tissue donors each year, ensuring safer, healthy organs for transplant.
The team provides virological screening for pathogens important in transplantation, including:
- Human Immunodeficiency Virus type 1 (HIV‑1)
- Hepatitis B (HBV)
- Hepatitis C (HCV)
- Cytomegalovirus (CMV)
- Epstein-Barr virus (EBV)
- Toxoplasma, and
There are approximately 1,650 people on organ transplant waiting lists in Australia at any one time. For these chronically ill people of all ages, access to a viable organ and tissue donor can lead to a longer, healthier life.
Currently there are more patients on transplantation lists than there are available organ and tissue donors. This was compounded during the COVID-19 pandemic which saw a 30% decrease in transplants.
But numbers are increasing to pre-pandemic levels and higher now with concerted donation drives led by DonateLife and the NSW Organ and Tissue Donation Service.
The small but dedicated team is committed to helping more people requiring transplants to access safe organ and tissue donations and to saving lives.