Validity of Postmortem Glycated Hemoglobin to Determine Status of Diabetes Mellitus in Corneal Donors

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To examine the stability of postmortem glycated hemoglobin (HbA1c) measurement and its relationship to premortem glycemia.


Postmortem blood samples were obtained from 32 donors (8 known diabetic) and shipped on ice to a central laboratory to examine the stability of HbA1c measurements during the first 9 postmortem days. Thirty-nine other suspected diabetic donors underwent comparison of premortem and postmortem HbA1c measurements.


Postmortem HbA1c measurements remained stable after 9 postmortem days (all measurements within ±0.2% from baseline with a mean difference of 0.02% ± 0.10%). Of the premortem measurements obtained within 90 days before death, 79% were within ±1.0% of the postmortem measurements compared with 40% for measurements more than 90 days apart. Three of the postmortem HbA1c measurements exceeded 6.5% (considered a threshold for diabetes diagnosis), although the medical histories did not indicate any previous diabetes diagnosis.


Postmortem HbA1c testing is feasible with current eye bank procedures and is reflective of glycemic control of donors during 90 days before death. HbA1c testing could potentially be a useful adjunct to review of the medical history and records for donor assessment for endothelial keratoplasty suitability and long-term graft success.

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