26-year-old man gets liver transplant from hepatitis C positive donor

BOSTON GLOBE | By Liz Kowalczyk

Ben Blake, 26, and his father, Duane Blake, met with Dr. Parsia A. Vagefi. In an experimental procedure, Ben Blake received a liver transplant from a patient with hepatitis C.
Ben Blake underwent his first liver transplant before he was out of diapers — an operation that kept him going for the next 20 years. But during his third year of college, Blake’s donated liver suddenly started to fail and he began to waste away.

With their son far down the wait list for another transplant, his frightened parents scrambled to find options to save his life. Then, Blake’s doctors at Massachusetts General Hospital suggested another, experimental option. Would he allow surgeons to transplant a liver from a donor infected with hepatitis C — a procedure that had rarely been attempted before. They would then give Blake a powerful new drug to — hopefully — keep him from becoming infected.

Blake and his father, Duane, readily agreed, and his mother, Jackie, who had initial doubts, soon came around. During a five-hour transplant operation that started at midnight on Dec. 8, he became one of a very few hepatitis C-negative patients in the United States to get a liver from a donor who has the disease. Continue reading