Johns Hopkins doctors successfully transplant hepatitis C-infected kidneys into virus-free patients

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In a small study, doctors at Johns Hopkins have successfully transplanted 10 hepatitis C-infected kidneys into patients without hepatitis C and prevented the patients from becoming infected by hepatitis C. The success of these transplants could mean more organs being available for the nearly 100,000 people in the U.S. currently waiting for a kidney transplant.

"Right now, most of the usable organs from donors with hepatitis C are discarded because there are very few hepatitis C-positive recipients on the waiting list," says Niraj Desai, M.D., an assistant professor of surgery at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine and senior author of the new paper, published in Annals of Internal Medicine. "Figuring out how to use these kidneys is a way to do more transplants and save more lives."

Until recently, treating hepatitis C was difficult; treatment regiments often included weekly injections, led to serious side effects that not all patients could tolerate and didn't cure all cases of the viral infection. That meant that organs -; including kidneys -; from hepatitis C-positive people were considered too high-risk to transplant into patients without the virus.

Around 500 hepatitis C-positive kidneys are discarded from organ donors in the U.S. every year, Desai says. And hundreds more may never make it to a recipient because some organ procurement organizations don't procure the kidneys in the first place due to the lack of a suitable recipient. Continue reading
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