Antiviral regimen allows for safe transplant of kidneys from hepatitis C-positive donors

Kidneys from dead donors with hepatitis C infection can be safely transplanted into recipients without the infection when treatment with antiviral drugs is used soon after the transplant, results from a clinical trial show.

Published in the Journal of the American Society of Nephrology, the study included 30 transplant recipients without hepatitis C infection who received a kidney from a deceased donor who had the infection.

The transplant patients received a regimen of direct-acting antiviral therapies that was initiated as early as two days after the transplant and continued for eight weeks. The patients were cured of hepatitis C infection.

One patient died of complications from sepsis four months after the transplant, which was found to be unrelated to hepatitis C. No other patient experienced severe side effects or liver disease.

"These findings could carry a strong message to the many transplant centers that are still wary about or resistant to using kidneys from HCV-infected donors," said Meghan Sise, MD, co-first author of the study and investigator in the nephrology division at Massachusetts General Hospital. "We've shown that these so-called donor positive to recipient negative transplants can be done safely and effectively through early antiviral intervention."

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