Nav: Home

Study reports successful kidney transplants from donors with a history of hepatitis C

August 22, 2018

Researchers at Loma Linda University Health found that kidney transplantation can be safely performed using organs testing positive for the hepatitis C virus (HCV) antibody but negative for active viral infection.

Their findings, published July 24 in the American Journal of Transplantation, could expand the number of kidneys available for those in need.

"One way of increasing the kidney donor pool is to utilize more organs from HCV positive donors," said the study's lead author, Michael E. de Vera, MD, director of Loma Linda University (LLU) Transplant Institute. "Currently, HCV positive donors are defined by donors that have previously had HCV even if they were cured. Now there has been a call to redefine the definition of an HCV positive donor in hopes that more organs can be used from these donors."

Co-author of the study, Michael Volk, MD, director of transplant hepatology at LLU Tansplant Institute, participated in a 2017 American Society of Transplantation consensus conference, which encouraged the use of organs testing positive for HCV -- those with only a positive antibody, as well as those testing positive for the virus. This recommendation stems in part from the availability of newer and better medications to cure people of the virus

"These organs testing positive for HCV are frequently discarded and often come from younger donors," Volk said. "This approach has the potential to save lives by increasing the numbers of transplants."

Although there is a record number of deceased organ donors, de Vera said the gap between the number of kidney transplants performed and the number of patients on the waiting list remains substantial.

There are now nearly 95,000 kidney patients on the waiting list, but less than 20,000 kidney transplants occurred in 2017, according to the United Network for Organ Sharing.

The problem is even wider in California, where nearly 2,300 people received a kidney in 2017, while nearly 19,000 remained on the waitlist.

HCV is tested in organ donors by checking for the presence of HCV antibodies (Ab) and HCV RNA, de Vera said. The presence of HCV antibodies shows that the virus at some point affected the host, but does not reveal if the host was cured. The presence of HCV RNA, on the other hand, indicates active infection. Many organ donors are HCV Ab positive but HCV RNA negative, and doctors have been reluctant to transplant kidneys from these donors for fear of transmitting HCV to the recipient. As a result, many of these kidneys have not been used in the past.

"Our hope is that this study will convince transplant doctors that the use of these donor kidneys is safe and does not lead to HCV transmission," said de Vera. "And hopefully, more patients will receive these life-saving organs."

The study was titled, "Transplantation of hepatitis C virus (HCV) antibody positive, nucleic acid test negative donor kidneys to HCV negative patients frequently results in seroconversion but not HCV viremia."

The study looked at 32 patients who were transplanted with HCV Ab+/NAT- kidneys at Loma Linda University Medical Center from January 2017 to February 2018. All patients consented to the surgeries. Recipient ages ranged from early 40s to late 60s, and donor ages ranged from late 20s to mid 50s. All 32 patients are doing well without evidence of hepatitis C virus infection.

Loma Linda University Adventist Health Sciences Center

Related Hepatitis Articles:

Nanotechnology delivers hepatitis B vaccine
X-ray imaging shows that nanostructured silica acts as a protective vehicle to deliver intact antigen to the intestine so that it can trigger an immune response.
Checkmate for hepatitis B viruses in the liver
Researchers at Helmholtz Zentrum München and the Technical University of Munich, working in collaboration with researchers at the University Medical Center Hamburg-Eppendorf and the University Hospital Heidelberg, have for the first time succeeded in conquering a chronic infection with the hepatitis B virus in a mouse model.
How common is Hepatitis C infection in each US state?
Hepatitis C virus infection is a major cause of illness and death in the United States and injection drug use is likely fueling many new cases.
New strains of hepatitis C found in Africa
The largest population study of hepatitis C in Africa has found three new strains of the virus circulating in the general population in sub-Saharan Africa.
High stability of the hepatitis B virus
At room temperature, hepatitis B viruses (HBV) remain contagious for several weeks and they are even able to withstand temperatures of four degrees centigrade over the span of nine months.
More Hepatitis News and Hepatitis Current Events

Best Science Podcasts 2019

We have hand picked the best science podcasts for 2019. Sit back and enjoy new science podcasts updated daily from your favorite science news services and scientists.
Now Playing: TED Radio Hour

Erasing The Stigma
Many of us either cope with mental illness or know someone who does. But we still have a hard time talking about it. This hour, TED speakers explore ways to push past — and even erase — the stigma. Guests include musician and comedian Jordan Raskopoulos, neuroscientist and psychiatrist Thomas Insel, psychiatrist Dixon Chibanda, anxiety and depression researcher Olivia Remes, and entrepreneur Sangu Delle.
Now Playing: Science for the People

#537 Science Journalism, Hold the Hype
Everyone's seen a piece of science getting over-exaggerated in the media. Most people would be quick to blame journalists and big media for getting in wrong. In many cases, you'd be right. But there's other sources of hype in science journalism. and one of them can be found in the humble, and little-known press release. We're talking with Chris Chambers about doing science about science journalism, and where the hype creeps in. Related links: The association between exaggeration in health related science news and academic press releases: retrospective observational study Claims of causality in health news: a randomised trial This...